The vote for the student body fee increase to fund the Diversity and Equity Board (DEB) passed March 28, guaranteeing that this branch of student government will have the resources necessary to function to its fullest capacity in the future.
Over the past two years, DEB has been a heated topic on campus — although Senate passed the proposal unanimously, Honor Board denied the board’s previous petition for funding via an increased student body fee three times. DEB was only granted increased funding after the constitution was amended to allow students to vote on changes to the fee. Throughout the long process, student organizers from the Diversity and Equity Board Initiative committee held numerous events, including a community meeting with Honor Board and a teach-in about DEB’s function and importance, in the hope of securing both the board’s standing in ASOC and its funding. These events were all well attended by the student body — over 50 students were present at the Senate meeting alone.
Yet the same is not the case for other cultural programs put on by the school. A lecture by well-known trans activist Janet Mock in Thorne Hall had a surprisingly small crowd, considering Mock’s influence and celebrity. Countless other talks or discussions on social justice issues also have tiny audiences, often comprised of the same faces. If the student body cares about DEB and believes it to be able to address issues of discrimination — and they should, given that they granted the organization well over $40,000 a year — then the least they could do is attend events made possible by its funding.
One such event — the very first financed by DEB — was a workshop titled “Organizing at the Intersection of Black Lives Matter and Gender Justice with Joshua Allen.” This workshop pushed for a more sustainable and effective activism in the Black Lives Matter movement, speaking to the potential of DEB to continue to revolutionize our campus in the future. By investing in events and programs that strengthen and encourage student organizing, DEB can help students make effective and long-lasting progress at Occidental.
In the future, we can expect to see many students’ visions brought to fruition by DEB’s new financial resources. But these opportunities mean nothing if more students on our campus do not take advantage of them, which is why it is imperative that students attend the events put on and funded by our newest branch of student government. We should show our appreciation for and solidarity with our peers belonging to other cultures by attending the events they throw. We need to participate in the facilitated conversations that are hosted regularly on this campus by our peers to fully understand the damaging effects of cultural appropriation or microaggressions on our friends and classmates. The success of DEB is now contingent on the student body.