Milaun Danclar, senior health science and psychology double major, is part of a select group of students that have spent the last several months working out the details of the new Boise State Inclusive Excellence Student Council.
“(We are) putting something in place that has the sole purpose of advocating for marginalized groups,” Danclar said. “(The Council will be) questioning, challenging and raising awareness of social injustices and things implemented on our campus that may not be in the best interest of all students and promoting equitable allocation of resources.”
The Council of Student Diversity and Inclusion is a student organization that will be actualized at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic school year. The Council will serve underrepresented groups on the Boise State campus through education and advocacy in an effort to eliminate institutionalized discrimination.
The Council will work in conjunction with the Vice President of Inclusive Excellence (VPIE)—a proposed position that is part of the Executive Board of Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU)—who, if the position is approved by the incoming ASBSU Executive Board, would serve as a liaison between the Council and the Executive Board of ASBSU.
“Basically we’re trying to establish a relationship across all of these (underrepresented) communities and work together as a united student community,” said Jade Donnelly, Vice President of ASBSU.
The Boise State Inclusive Excellence Student Council
The Council will be made up of five to seven students, all of which will serve as equal members on the Council. Danclar said the Council is the only organization on campus that is created to be “bottom up.”
Administrative and academic changes at Boise State—which are top down—are made by people in positions of power for the majority of students. Students who don’t fall into that group can present complaints after legislation or bills have passed, but ultimately those students are not taken into consideration in the decision, according to Danclar.
“Structurally ASBSU is like that too—a top down organization,” Danclar said. “ASBSU is not designed to advocate for the minority of the school. It only benefits the majority, the majority being your heterosexual white students involved in Greek Life.”
Fructoso Basaldua, a member of the committee planning the Council, said the Council will be able to address and change issues that groups like the Afro-Black Student Alliance, SHADES and the Martin Luther King Living Learning Community have been struggling to address on campus.
“The Council will serve as an organizational entity that will provide pressure to the Executive Board and the administration to support all of its students and it provides that organizational pressure because right now we have a lack of power as organized students,” said Basaldua. “If this council becomes part of the structure that is powerful—having that be explicitly implemented into the bureaucracy.”
According to Francisco Salinas, director of Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Council will be able to address institutional discrimination—discrimination we “have come to believe is a part of everyday society”—by continuing the efforts of the previous student organizations and not settling for less.
“One of the strategies for pushing out (institutional discrimination) is for us to not be satisfied with half measures or minimal project,” Salinas said. “We know there are effects of institutional discrimination that still exist today, and we have to do more than we’ve done before because this (discrimination) is deeper than we thought.”
Diversity in the Unversity and creating the Council
Chandra Reyna, member of the committee planning the Council, explained it is counterintuitive for the University to not teach about diversity—and the discrimination that sometimes comes with it—and instead rely on the Council to teach students about because both will undoubtedly show up in students lives after graduation.
“Our University sees diversity as a separate thing that it will deal with when it comes up,” Reyna said. “Boise State treats diversity like it isn’t important when we deal with it in everyday life and I don’t know why it’s not incorporated into your classes.”
Reyna expressed concern that over time, if this council isn’t used correctly or is filled with students who aren’t passionate about eliminating institutional discrimination, it could make the situation for marginalized students worse.
“What will happen is when marginalized students have issues, Boise State will now be able to point to International Student Services, Multicultural Student Services and even say ‘You even have a spot on ASBSU, you even have an entire committee so your problem isn’t valid,’” Reyna said.
Another member of the committee planning the council, Clarissa Abidog, also stressed the importance of implementing the council correctly the first time. She stated that if this council begins and then ends it “teaches generations of marginalized groups that ‘Oh they tried and they failed,’ and that will be a turnoff to all parties involved.”
“(The Council) needs to continue past now, past four years, or it says something very telling about the entire institution,” Abidog said.
According to Danclar, the five to seven positions on the Council will be paid. The funding to supply these salaries has not been secured; however, Danclar assured that the committee planning the Council was in the process of securing them. She said the committee would begin contacting organizations this week and have conversations about gaining support.
“A lot of people say ‘We don’t need something like this on our campus’ and we can’t be the only ones saying ‘Yes, we do,’ because it will go to deaf ears,” Danclar said. “We need advocacy support and financial support as well. Every little bit counts.”
According to Tommy Lippman, ASBSU Secretary of Community Relations, several members of the committee planning the Council have asked for $30 thousand to cover all of its costs for next year.
“Unless we figure out how to acquire the budget for the Council itself, we need to lay a groundwork as to whether the funds will be used for event hosting, programing and whatnot,” Lippman said. “To claim that those positions will be paid wouldn’t be ethical because a vote would have to go through (ASBSU Student) Assembly or have been worked out in some way with the department.”
The Vice President of Inclusive Exellence
According to Donnelly interviews for the VPIE position—which will be appointed rather than elected like the majority of ASBSU’s officers—would begin in April if the position is approved. Donnelly and ASBSU President Rebecca Kopp will work in conjunction with the Committee overseeing the creation of the Council of Student Diversity and Inclusion to “find individuals that can focus on ASBSU and this new council,” Donnelly said.
“We’re working to build the relationship and we’re trying to create a budget, make sure there are procedures that can be taken by next year’s team, but we can’t make sure they will be taken by next year’s team,” Lippman.
ASBSU Government Relations Officer Josh Scholer said he had several questions about the VPIE position. He stated that the ASBSU Secretary of External Affairs Officer position had been originally changed to Secretary of Community Relations, because ASBSU wanted that position “to be able to do internal and external relations”—and function in a fashion similar to the proposed VPIE.
Scholer, however, is in support of the Council and believes it will represent and advocate for the desires of marginalized groups, which he states, “we haven’t been able to do that as ASBSU.”
“Obviously we’ll need to balance everything—overall, we do represent 24 thousand students, but at least it does bring in that marginalized voice of those students to tell ASBSU what they want, what they need,” Scholer said.
Students can apply to be a member of the Boise State Inclusive Excellence Student Council from March 15 through March 31 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.