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Candidates discuss increasing diversity at OMAD and SAB forum

At the Student Advisory Board (SAB) and Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity forum, the ASUW Board of Directors candidates discussed the proposed diversity requirement, increasing accessibility for students with disabilities, and increasing diversity within the association.

Candidates fielded questions about diversity from SAB Chair Dalia Amin and SAB Vice Chair Tai Weinman. They also answered a wide variety of questions from audience members.

All the candidates running for the director of diversity efforts position agreed their role on the Board of Directors is to make sure minority students enjoy their time at the UW and to make sure all students are adequately represented. Jennifer Gibbons, who is running on the Husky Impact ticket, and Chasmon Tarimel, who is running on the ProgressUW ticket, both argued that the definition of diversity should be expanded to include gender, sexual orientation, and ability — as well as the traditional ethnicity-based definition.

Both Tarimel and Gibbons are familiar with working with minority groups on campus. Gibbons currently serves as the director of the Queer Student Commission. She said this experience makes her the best person to work with ASUW’s diversity commissions. Tarimel said he has been involved with both SAB and the Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC) since he was a freshman.

“The ECC has been my home away from home,” Tarimel said.

Jaydee Dodd, who is running for director of diversity efforts on the Purple Roots ticket, said that although he doesn’t currently work with groups advocating for diversity on campus, he plans on being open about working with them if elected.

Tarimel and Gibbons both said that if elected, they want to work more with the UW’s disabled community. Tarimel said he looks forward to working with the disability center opening in Mary Gates Hall. Gibbons wants to make sure all areas of campus are accessible to students with disabilities and to standardize the disability statement in class syllabi to make sure disabled students are treated fairly in all of their classes.

Students in the audience asked the candidates their opinions about the UW Police Department headquarters potentially being located near the ECC. Students in different communities largely disagree about this topic — a question at the forum indicated students in residence halls advocate for the proposed location to increase safety around the new residence halls, while students in the ECC community oppose it.

Both Tarimel and Gibbons voiced their opposition to the UW Police Department being located near the ECC. Gibbons said it would be her job as director of diversity efforts to advocate for the interests of the ECC community.

“Most frequently I’ve heard that that’s not an appropriate place for a police station,” Gibbons said.

Tarimel argued that the UW Police Department headquarters shouldn’t be located near the ECC because it would make the students who frequent the center uncomfortable. He said that many minority students distrust police.

“There’s already a stigma with people of color and the police,” Tarimel said.

Students at the forum also expressed a concern about a tweet posted by Desiree Hanssen, candidate for vice president on the Husky Impact ticket. The tweet, posted Jan. 5, said, “Hispanic guy said ‘hola’ to me on the street today. Almost responded with ‘hola’ too but then realized I was in America.”

Hanssen apologized for the tweet and said that she wished she’d never done it. She also said that the tweet may have been misinterpreted.

“Social media is a dangerous thing, as we all know, because you can’t see people’s emotions through the Internet,” Hanssen said.

Reach reporter Amelia Dickson at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @ameliadickson

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