SGA’s diversity and equity committee focuses on outreach efforts

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In its first semester, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is focusing on connecting Student Governing Association with student organizations.

SGA formed the committee last spring by combining the functions of the former Student Engagement Standing Committee and the Special Committee on Membership.

Mathew Orzechowski, senior in political science and industrial engineering, is the Chair of the DEI committee.

“We want to keep people engaged so they have a stake in what’s going on, and we want to address our own internal challenges because we want to be the best we can be,” Orzechowski said.

“We’re working on the outreach component,” Orzechowski continued. “Basically it’s kind of this two-step process. It’s looking for re-engaging with organizations and building those bridges and connections.”

Olivia Pruss, junior in biology and Spanish, is one of the committee members involved in the outreach efforts.

“The goal of this committee … is just being very connected and engaged with them,” Pruss said. “Not for our own benefit, but to better serve them and hear their voices, and then further voice their concerns during student senate or committee meetings.”

Orzechowski said the outreach process is an important first step.

“We’ve basically picked a group of organizations — all the organizations in diversity and multicultural student affairs — and we said, ‘These are our first hits,’” he said. “So, it’s not where we stop, necessarily, but it’s what we think is most important right now.”

Two committee members attend each of the targeted organizations’ meetings to hear concerns firsthand and answer questions about SGA.

“I really love the conversations we have, because it’s really nice to be in a room with lots of different perspectives, but also people who are respectful of other people’s opinions and other people’s stories,” Pruss said. “I think I’ve learned a lot more about the diversity of students at K-State just by talking through the topics we’ve had. I’d say the conversations are the best part.”

Natalia Rodriguez, sophomore in human resource management and Spanish, is the committee’s vice chair.

“We’re trying to make it a platform where students can bring their issues, goals and stuff they have going on to us, so we can bring them to SGA … and empower them to bring it to SGA themselves,” Rodriguez said. “Once we started meeting, I realized what a great impact we could do.”

The DEI committee meets at 8 p.m. on Mondays to discuss their plans and progress.

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