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Submission: Student Advisory Board lays out goals for UCLA community

By Alex Torpey, Connie Chang, Arielle Mokhtarzadeh, Jabril Muhammad, and Stacey Shin

Nov. 16, 2016 1:13 a.m.

On Oct. 17, the Daily Bruin published an opinion column that raised questions about the vision and implementation of the Student Advisory Board in the office of the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The SAB accepts the criticism and recommendations of the column graciously, and is elated to introduce our goals and projects we are working on for the Bruin community.

Last spring, Vice Chancellor Jerry Kang released an application for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Student Advisory Board. This board was formed was so that the EDI could gain a better perspective of student needs through the lens of students from both undergraduate and graduate schools at UCLA. The charge was for the SAB to be a team of student “advisors, liaisons and problem solvers” to the administration on behalf of the student community.

Since the start of the quarter, we have worked with urgency to define our goals. In five short weeks, we have organized into committees which are addressing projects from campus coalition building to administrative advocacy. We have also created multiple forums for communication with the student body and created short- and long-term action plans.

Through these processes, we aim to fulfill our mission to work in coordination with the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion toward “building equity, for all” and to connect, represent and empower students in ways that produce a meaningful, positive and enduring improvement to the UCLA campus climate. We have set a simple yet ambitious vision for SAB and the campus as a whole.

First, we seek to build coalitions with a student-centric approach. Second, we wish to create a standardized yet adaptable approach to equity-, diversity- and inclusion-related training for student organizations, staff and faculty and the UCLA community. Third, we will be responsive, transparent advocates for students at an institutional level. Finally, we will identify and confront issues of equity, diversity and inclusion that have not been adequately addressed by existing campus resources.

We have prioritized finding the best way to solicit input. We have published our Facebook page, weekly office hours and an online suggestion and submission form. SAB is excited for the vast array of potential student input, the almost inconceivable range of experiences and perspectives aggregated on UCLA’s campus.

With that in mind, communication is a dynamic process. The Facebook page and UCLA Equity website are also intended to inform students of SAB, EDI and other campus organization events that are similarly promoting an equitable, diverse and inclusive campus. We hope our platforms will be both interactive realizations of our commitment to the power of student voices and a rigorous exercise in analysis of the topics raised.

In addition to increasing our visibility in person and online, the board plans to work closely with EDI on existing projects that strengthen and incorporate student voices that frequently go unheard. In this capacity, our first major task is to enhance the existing funding process to consider innovative ideas, coalition building, better incorporating marginalized groups and other mechanisms that promote diversity, equity and inclusion. As a diverse group of students we will continue to listen and draw from our experiences to amplify your concerns and ideas to build a more inclusive campus.

To properly accomplish our goals and make an impact, we on the Student Advisory Board must directly address missing links and identify opportunities beyond the current programming and diversity efforts that are necessary to shift the status quo. Only with the invaluable contributions of the entire UCLA community can we foster a more socially aware, reflective and inclusive Bruin culture that ought to be as pervasive as the biases and “isms” that dominate our socialization.

If you’d like more information about the SAB, you can visit our website and our Facebook page.

Chang is a a doctoral candidate for higher education and organizational change, Mokhtarzadeh is a third-year political science and communication studies student, Muhammad is a third-year sociology student, Shin is an English doctoral candidate and Torpey is a fourth-year economics student. They all serve on the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’s Student Advisory Board.

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Alex Torpey
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