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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

SG legislation establishes diversity and inclusion requirement for senators

Effective immediately, senators must participate in at least one diversity and inclusion ‘extracurricular’ per academic year
(Courtesy of Wake Forest Student Government)
(Courtesy of Wake Forest Student Government)

Wake Forest Student Government unanimously voted to pass Senate Bill 1 during their weekly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, which amends Article II, Section 3 of the Student Government Bylaws to increase senators’ engagement on campus with an array of student organizations. 

The proposed legislation was submitted by Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Chairs Bayla Sheshadri and Cristian Otero and requires senators to participate in one extracurricular event related to diversity and inclusion per academic year. According to the Student Government Bylaws, an “extracurricular” refers to campus events that “Student Government co-sponsors or registers for as an organization,” that are not Senate or Committee meetings. Senators may also make a request to the Executive Board that an event in which Student Government has no participation count as an extracurricular.  

“We wanted an opportunity for Student Government and the members who are a part of it to be more engaged and active in collaborating with the different student organizations on campus,” Otero said. 

Prior to this amendment, Student Government did not have a diversity and inclusion requirement for senators. The Student Government Bylaws required senators to participate in two extracurricular events per semester — totaling four per academic year. Now, one of those four extracurricular requirements must incorporate diversity and inclusion. 

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Sheshadri also said that the definition of “diversity and inclusion” will remain open-ended. According to the bill, it is up to the discretion of the Speaker of the House to “determine and publicize what qualifies as a diversity and inclusion event.”

Under the new Bill, each week, Speaker of the House Michael Walsh will collaborate with Secretary Marta Zach to announce a list of extracurriculars occurring on campus and determined which events meet the diversity and inclusion requirement. 

“First, I think it is important to assess what we mean when we say diversity and inclusion,” Walsh said in a statement via email. “As someone who has done diversity and inclusion work on this campus, I will say that D&I work is very multifaceted, involving many different types of projects and goals. Because of this, it is very hard to define. Generally, though, the goals of D&I work are to represent all identities and cultivate environments where any individual, regardless of their affinities, feels included and safe.” 

Sheshadri, who also served on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee last year, said that her experience with Greek Life organizations on campus, which have diversity and inclusion requirements, inspired the bill.  

“We…represent a very diverse constituency with people from many different backgrounds, so it’s very important that we as senators engage in these events and know what’s going on on campus,” Sheshadri said.

Walsh explained that he is committed to evaluating events based on these goals of diversity and inclusion work and determining which events are open for senators to attend. 

“These events can be many things, such as Women’s History Month events, bias training workshops or open events from affinity student organizations,” Walsh said. “I will emphasize that an event is only chosen to be an extracurricular if it is open to the entire student body. Many affinity centers and student organizations are safe places for students, so we do not want to encourage senators to go to any closed events. I will be routinely checking with center directors and organization presidents to make sure which events are open for senators.” 

Both Otero and Sheshadri said they were excited about the new legislation, and Otero explained that the new requirement will push members of Student Government to learn more about the individuals they are representing. 

“So it’s important for us as a student government — we’re the people representing the [student] body — to put ourselves in these situations, so we can grow and … learn more as individuals,” Otero said.

Update Nov. 15: The headline of this article has been condensed.

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Maddie Stopyra
Maddie Stopyra, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie is a junior from Rural Hall, N.C. majoring in English and minoring in journalism and psychology. Outside of the OGB, she is also a member of the campus a cappella group Minor Variation. In her free time, you can find her reading novels and going to coffee shops with friends.

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