A student commission to address bias is being formed as a result of a meeting between administrators and student groups over the summer.
The commission is meant to provide safe places for students to address their concerns outside of the structure of the Brooklyn College administration.
“I’m extremely proud of myself and all the students,” for creating a student commission that will, “center the voice of students. I’m hopeful that working alongside Anthony Brown will bring forth safer spaces for all students on campus,” Daniel Vazquez Sanabria, an Art History, Puerto Rican and Latin Studies major, and member of the Puerto Rican Alliance said in an e-mail.
Anthony Brown, the head of the Diversity and Equity Department, said that he was “very excited,” about the student commission.
“I believe that whenever there is a space where students get to talk about issues related to diversity and bias, I think that’s a good thing,” Brown said. “ I don’t see a downside to that. I only see an upside for that because I think student’s voices need to be heard and that’s just one avenue for student voices to be heard.”
Brown said that he met with USG president Alyssa Taylor and Sanabria to discuss the commission. “They had this idea to form a commission to deal with institutional bias. . .the President thought that was a good idea.” Brown, Taylor, and Sanabria agreed to find students willing to sit on the commission.
According to Brown, Sanabria met with him last Thursday and expressed difficulty in finding students to sit on the commission. “He wanted a diverse group of students. He didn’t want it just to be his idea and Alyssa’s idea,” he said.
There used to be a student diversity advisory board coordinated by Renee Striker, who was the associate director of Diversity and Equity department which met monthly. However, according to Vice President of Brooklyn College Ronald Jackson, because of lack of student interest, it was dissolved. “When Daniel [Vazquez Sanabria] talked about it again we were like ‘sure’ because we’ve already done this in the past. . .so it’s not a new group for the college so it’s just revitalizing a group from the past.”
In addition to Taylor of USG and Sanabria, the initial meeting which spawned the student commission was set up between Sarah Gafur of the Brooklyn College Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine, Mari Luz of the Mexican Heritage Student Association, Isa Mitchell of Women of Color and the NAACP, and members of the administration including Anderson, Jackson, Brown, and Anne Lopes, provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting were diversity on campus, sexual harassment, and issues related to different departments including the Puerto Rican and Latin Studies department and the Africana Studies department. The meeting was mostly inconclusive with the exception of the agreement to start the student commission on institutional bias.