Daily Egyptian

USG creates multicultural committee after students voice need for change

Leilani Bartlett, middle with papers, a freshman from Chicago studying business, leads a march April 12 from Brown Hall to Morris Library. Bartlett, who organized the event, posted a video to Facebook on April 4 expressing her concerns about racism she said she has experienced at SIU. Her video received over 161,000 views. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

Leilani Bartlett, middle with papers, a freshman from Chicago studying business, leads a march April 12 from Brown Hall to Morris Library. Bartlett, who organized the event, posted a video to Facebook on April 4 expressing her concerns about racism she said she has experienced at SIU. Her video received over 161,000 views. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Cory Ray

Undergraduate Student Government introduced a new committee in response to racial tensions on campus during the spring semester.

The plan to form the multicultural committee was presented by Rose Weisenstein, USG’s vice president for student affairs, during its regularly scheduled meeting.

She said some of the events from last spring — including the May 2 strike coupled with a student’s viral account of racist speech used against her in the dorms and a YouTube video that called for lynching black students on campus — were part of the reason for creating the committee.

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“I think a lot of what happened could have been prevented by simply having conversations that fueled action on this campus,” said Weisenstein, a senior from Belleville studying human nutrition and dietetics.

The committee would potentially lead round-table style discussions, where any RSO can participate. Weisenstein said she plans to facilitate as a third-party member.

She said the goal is to promote dialogue among students, hoping an action-based committee can be implemented in the future.

“We are wanting to do more student outreach and address student concerns directly,” she said.

Weisenstein said specific goals for the committee will be decided once it is formed and has representatives.

“That’s what this is intended for — to start those discussions,” USG president Jared Stern said during the meeting. “We’re not going to sit here and tell you this is exactly what our definition is. We’re going to bring together students to work on that together.”

Weisenstein said she already reached out to campus organizations, such as the Black Affairs Council, Saluki Rainbow Network and the International Student Council, and used their feedback to help shape the new committee.

“I think a lot of people just simply don’t understand different cultures and that’s where education comes in,” Weisenstein said. “By having these conversations, we can educate the people who are involved.”

Staff writer Cory Ray can be reached at 618-536-3326, [email protected] or on Twitter @coryray_DE.

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