Minority students, members of San Diego State cultural organizations and members of the the Residence Hall Association placed red duct tape over their mouths in a silent demonstration last week against the student government’s restructuring plan, a plan that they way will result in a loss of representation and votes for these students and their organizations.
During their assembly last week – the focus of the protest – the A.S. Council approved a proposed model for its governmental restructure through a majority vote—eliminating individual votes for cultural organizations. The current structure – the one just pushed aside – allowed for “cultural organizations” to sit on the council, giving each sitting representative one vote. The restructure model which was approved will be implemented once finished, combines the cultural representation in A.S. into what the restructuring committee called the “Student Diversity Commission”.
With the new structure, the cultural organizations represented on A.S. will share one representative seat on the A.S. council, with one counting vote for all. Association of Chicana Activists representative Janel Martinez was quoted by the Daily Aztec, the campus newspaper:
“There are so many concerns. I’m just worried. How is it that we are voting on this and there are so many things that could be fixed before voting?”
A psychology senior and former Resident Hall representative Jasmine Henderson was also quoted during the protested meeting:
“I ask the representative of the College of Science ‘Are you ready to represent me as an African-American woman?’”
In addition, members of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, Andres Bonifacio Samahan and the Resident Hall Association asked members to reconsider their stance.
The Daily Aztec also quoted A.S. Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Channelle McNutt who said:
“No one on here wants to silence anybody. We need to find a more cohesive way for our organization and for our community to collaborate. The fact that I have people here that have tapes on their mouths breaks my heart.”
Restructuring committee member Cord Claffey responded to the protest:
“Their vote is being removed and there is no sugarcoating that. Every student is represented by their College Council. A student who belongs to a represented organization on A.S. Council is being represented twice.”
Claffey explained that the structural shift in power is meant to prevent multiple representations. “Everything will ultimately depend on the people,” Claffey said. “If they’re good, it’ll work.
The Daily Aztec explained:
In the current and in the proposed structure, each college council receives one representative and the representative’s vote based on the number of students enrolled in the college. For example, the College of Business Administration serves approximately 4,000 students and is therefore represented by three council members and holds three votes. …
Restructuring was passed with 27 votes, seven oppositions and three abstaining. Reasoning for restructure, which is posted online on the A.S. web- site, says the new model will make the council more efficient.
Former Professional Studies and Fine Arts college representative Kristin Sword was also quoted:
“I, in my three years here, have never been more offended. The fact that people feel like their culture and their organizations are something that can’t be shared with my campus culture makes me sad.”