By KATE SELTZER
Sophomore Rahima Morshed, the incoming chair of SGA’s Diversity Unity and Coordinating Committee, has high hopes for the coming semester.
“As the new chair for the committee, I am determined to be a continuous source for all students to address their concerns to regarding student life, student policy, and student engagement,” Morshed said.
Per a new reform in the SGA’s Constitution, the DUCC and other Senate committees now have the ability to propose legislation subject to a vote from the SGA Advisory Board. Morshed as several ideas for new proposals for the coming semester.
“I am determined to work with the UMW Office of Financial Aid, [as well as with] administration to pursue Pell Grants for students,” Morshed said. “Many students of minority groups, specifically students of color, rely on this form of aid to complete their college education.”
Morshed also hopes to work with the the athletics department to “abolish the tokenization of people of color on promotional materials and advertisement[s] for the athletics department.”
Current chair of the DUCC, senior Mariam Ansari, is pleased with how far the committee has come.
“Something I’m most proud of with DUCC this semester is that we’ve really gotten our name out on campus and made our presence known,” said Ansari. “My goal coming in as chair for this semester was that we would reach as many students and organizations as we possibly could. While we still have a long way to go in that regard, I know that we’ve made great strides in the last few months and that makes me proud to be chair of this committee.”
Ansari hopes that the DUCC will continue to expand its campus visibility and outreach.
“I hope that, in the coming semesters, DUCC continues to pull motivated and involved students into the fold and work with them,” said Ansari. She also thinks it is important to involve UMW’s less visible students by “reach[ing] out to the students who don’t normally participate in student organizations and bridge[ing] the gap between the involved and the passive.”
Morshed intends to make sure all student voices are heard.
“I will actively be spending time with all student organizations – multicultural, political, religious, athletic, and miscellaneous – to hear what they would like to see addressed and resolved [on campus],” said Morshed.
Both Morshed and Ansari expressed a desire to mitigate the sometimes tense atmosphere on campus.
“I intend to speak directly to administration regarding some of the more recent events and make them aware of how students feel [so] they can address and handle such situations in a more reasonable and respectable manner,” said Morshed. She also plans on “work[ing] personally with Dr. Sabrina Johnson, the new Vice President for Equity and Access, to establish a more safe and inclusive environment for all students.”
“In an elected position your job is to help raise the voices of students who feel as though they aren’t heard,” Ansari added. “As tensions rise and fall on campus, I want DUCC to remain a solid organization on this campus to help students feel safe and represented.”
The Spirit Rock, which has been a source of controversy in recent weeks, remains a challenge for the DUCC. “I believe that the spirit rock is a staple of Mary Washington clubs and organizations and to use it to spread messages of hate is not at all in accordance with UMW’s values,” said Ansari.
Morshed agreed, saying that the message of “Trump 2020” written over “Hate has no home here” was an unacceptable sign of division. “Whether this gesture [was] done by students or someone off campus, it is important that it does not happen again,” she said. “Therefore, it is vital that the rock be monitored vigorously.”
Ansari and Morshed hope students will continue to see the DUCC as valuable ally and resource.
“Our goal is to not be the voice for you, but rather to get your voice heard by SGA, students, staff, faculty, and administration,” said Morshed. Ansari agreed.
“DUCC’s purpose is to elevate the voices of the underrepresented and marginalized regardless of what groups they are part of,” said Ansari. “I want students to know that we are a resource on this campus waiting to help out student organizations in any way we can.”