April 10, 2012

SAB Community Letter

By Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

Dear ECC Community,

At the March 5th General Meeting some of the participating audience members at the meeting publicly criticized some of the Student Advisory Board (SAB) Executive Board members. To ensure we kept focus on the topic at hand (the ECC Room Naming) the officers refrained from addressing most of the accusations. But to better serve our members the SAB Executive Board feels it is necessary to address the concerns presented at the meeting, and in the process, correct any lingering misconceptions about SAB and the role of its leaders.

SAB’s purpose: The Student Advisory Board does not operate like most other student organizations on this campus. Instead the purpose of SAB is to provide an open space for underrepresented student groups to engage and discuss ongoing issues pertaining to the diverse community on campus. SAB’s mission is supported by the following principles:

I.            Advising the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity Vice President, Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, on issues affecting students, especially those pertaining to diversity, the programs of the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, and the University of Washington.

II.            Increasing the impact of the Student Advisory Board on the University
administration’s policy formulation and decision making by expanding awareness
of student issues and cultural values through education, public discussion, and all
forms of communication.

III.            Working to foster an environment in which all students and organizations can
achieve their full potential as leaders and to enhance sensitivity to diversity on
campus through networking and resource development.

The Executive Board: SAB has six students that act as the Executive Board and regularly meet with the OMA/D VP to discuss emerging or emergency issues or concerns. The SAB Executive Board places priority on listening to and considering all student voices in and outside of the regularly scheduled SAB meetings. The board meets once a week outside the SAB meetings to coordinate and plan for each SAB meeting. The duties of each board member are listed online in our constitution.

SAB Executive Board members also serve as facilitators of the meetings and try to remain neutral in discussions to avoid bias and influencing other SAB members. Furthermore, we coordinate and lead meeting discussions based on student input and requests. In order for SAB’s elected officers to fulfill these roles effectively, the trust and respect of other SAB representatives and community members is necessary. If an issue does arise with any members of the Executive Board, we ask that out of respect for the person that concerns be addressed privately with the officer or the chair first, in order to promptly find a solution. As members of the SAB Executive Board, it is our role both individually and collectively to serve the members of SAB through respect and solidarity, and a commitment to providing an open and safe place for conversations regarding issues that we face as students, and furthermore that are relevant to the diverse communities we serve and represent.

Structure of SAB meetings: In order to allow all members to comfortably share their opinions and concerns, SAB meeting rooms are strategically structured in an open circle format, food is provided at every meeting, and all students are highly encouraged to talk. An agenda created for each meeting that allows SAB members, Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, and other students groups to actively share information with SAB.  Each meeting begins with a “check in question” to continue community building throughout the course of the year, and to promote connecting with others members on a more personal level. This is usually followed by a “Community Concerns/Issue Exploration” section where a majority of the meeting time is allocated for students to bring forth any and all topics to share with the OMAD administration and other SAB representatives. We provide this time in the meeting to allow SAB representatives and other students to voice concerns from their communities and to create discussion on issues we face and to begin the process of finding a solution. After we open the floor for students to share concerns, we move on to the “Vice President’s Corner”, where Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange provides students with updates and also requests feedback from SAB representatives. Furthermore, we provide a section for “Discussion Points”, where SAB Executive Board members share important and relevant concerns. Every meeting ends with “Announcements/Upcoming Events”, which allows those present to share community events, programs, and other information relevant to their communities.

SAB members are always highly encouraged to share their concerns or to email potential agenda items to SAB before or after the meeting. The SAB Executive Board makes it a priority to actively listen to student concerns that are presented during the meeting and craft an agenda that is reflective of concerns presented in previous meetings. The Student Advisory Board meets for an hour and half every Monday, and depending on the issues at hand, other parts of the agenda can and have been sacrificed to solely address community concerns.

SAB Membership:  SAB is comprised of seven ‘Protected’ seats, eight ‘At-Large  Registered Student Organization’ seats, and five ‘At-Large’ Student seats, four ‘OMAD Adviser’ seats, and twelve ‘Non-Voting Ex-Officio member’ seats. All of these members are selected by the respective organizations and the ‘at large’ members are selected based on a written application to Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, Dr. Gabe Gallardo and the SAB Executive Officers.

All seats in SAB are allocated in order to bring the most diverse group of individuals and to accurately represent the diversity present on this campus. In this capacity, all seats in SAB and the individuals who represent them are entitled to equal voting rights and the ability to run for a SAB executive board position. While At-Large members do not have a definite group in which they report to, they are further representing individuals that cannot be grouped into a specific ethnic group, and thus are representing a holistic and unique constituent, and bring a unique perspective to the conversations in SAB. These members represent diverse organizations that cannot be grouped into an ethnic category thus representing an At-Large (all) perspective, but are by no means less entitled to any privileges other seat members have.

SAB Communication: Students are informed of every meeting via Facebook and email. All meeting minutes are sent out a week after each meeting and all minutes are posted on the SAB website by the end of each month.

Link to Website: http://depts.washington.edu/omad/student-advisory-board/
Link to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OMAD-VP-Student-Advisory-Board/57861991735

Communication is key for SAB’s success, each organization affiliated with SAB should have a student leader (Club President) that is responsible for holding their SAB representative accountable for the assimilation and exchange of information between organization and the Student Advisory Board. Thus, while this board’s purpose is to allow students to advise Dr. Sheila, it is the responsibility of the organization to choose a representative that actively and accurately reflects the voice of its respective organization.  Communication must continue to be a two-way street for it to benefit all involved. Furthermore, the members of the Executive Board are not to be held accountable for the communication or lack thereof, between elected organization representatives and the Student Advisory Board.

It is the hope of the SAB Executive Board that this letter serves to clear up SAB’s process of operation and its role in the community. We hope that this letter accurately portrays the importance of the relationship between SAB and the individuals and groups of the ECC. Moving forward we hope this letter will allow for more open communication and conversations in order to further create respect, accountability, and solidarity between these groups to collectively address and support the organizations of the ECC. If any discrepancies arise, we hope that you’ll feel comfortable enough to bring these to our attention in order to move towards a solution. We expressly request concerns be brought to the individuals of the SAB Executive Board or Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange herself.

To better serve you in the future, the SAB Executive Board will be hosting a small discussion session for ECC affiliated Student organization and for the current SAB representatives to attend and begin in-person conversations regarding SAB’s current structure. This meeting will be taking place on April 11th; we hope you can join us in Condon 711A at 4PM. Please email omadsab@uw.edu to confirm your attendance and to share your concerns via email.

In respect and solidarity,

SAB Executive Board

Dalia Amin, Chair
Tai Weinman, Vice Chair
Tyler Adamson, Director of Campus Climate
Tony Vo, Treasurer
Kristine Maramot, Secretary
Chika Ugwoaba, Director of Public Relations and Marketing

Comments are closed.