Diversity issues requires more understanding
Opinions / January 18, 2013
Editorial: KSA should make better use of its constituency reps.
By The Runner
Some Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) elected officials showed a disturbing lack of awareness around the issues facing minority groups at the last meeting of council. For every concern raised by the constituency representatives during the Jan. 2 KSA council meeting, there was a vague response from a council member that neatly sidestepped the issue.
Despite attempts to call the council into action on behalf of historically underrepresented students, the constituency reps were met with disinterest and misdirections. The KSA repeatedly showed itself as being unwilling to stand up for every student on campus.
Arts faculty representative Samantha Klassen showed a distinct naivety when she said that she “[doesn’t] think we need to be scared of the labels; we can still work together.”
It also implies a purposeful contention on the part of minorities. Constituencies such as women, mature students or students of colour, do not have representation because they want to separate themselves from the rest of the student body. They have specific representation because these separations already exist. These students face issues which are not shared by the student body as a whole, and constituency representation specifically exists so that those needs can be kept at the forefront and addressed. It was evident, however, that some in the KSA do not fully recognize that purpose, when the suggestion was made to hold referenda on minority-specific issues.
Senate representative Jared Penland proposed that official positions of the council should only be done by referenda, which sounded logical until he followed up with a suggestion that “gay rights or whatever” should also be put to vote by the student body. The rights of minorities on campus should absolutely not be a matter of popular vote. If the council chooses to only acknowledge the majority, then they are not representing the whole student body. Why provide students with specific representation if those representatives are then ignored or patronized by the council?
Council continually brushed over the issues presented by constituency representatives, acting as if they held secondary importance. If the KSA is truly concerned with the desires of the student body, then they need to give more attention to what their constituency reps are asking for. They should be taking a stand for all students, which means acknowledging the diversity on campus and making a much stronger effort at inclusion.