What: Underrepresented Student Group Council meeting
When: Feb. 8, 2:30 p.m.
Where: UMC room 457, Dennis Small Cultural Center
More: Check out USGC on Facebook.
Leaders of nearly 20 student groups at the University of Colorado have joined forces to revive the Underrepresented Student Group Council in an effort to restore the campus’s minority voice.
The group was started in the fall of 2004 and became obsolete in 2009 after declining membership rendered the council inactive. After two years, CU senior Rasheed Lawal, president of the Muslim Student Association and intercampus liaison for the Student Outreach Retention Center for Equity, is resurrecting the council.
Lawal said he is confident the group will prosper now, due to lingering motivation of minority students to speak up in the aftermath of last fall’s hate crime on the Hill.
“I think now is the perfect time to start up again with all the momentum minority students seem to have right now,” Lawal said. “After the hate violence on the Hill last semester, underrepresented students are making more of an effort to be heard.”
In September, a CU student of Nigerian decent said he was called racist names and assaulted on the University Hill. Since the alleged bias-motivated incident last fall, students have organized multiple events on campus encouraging safety and acceptance and promoting campus diversity, Lawal said.
Students have also held a “Gender and Racial Justice Safety Forum,” public discussions about diversity on the CU-Boulder campus and started a new student group, “Stop Hate on Campus,” which is represented in the reformed council.
The underrepresented council has already brought together representatives from religious, cultural, ethnic, disabled and non-traditional student groups. As a unified council, students are hoping their once-small voice will be heard loud and clear.
Lawal compares the council to the United Nations, a collaboration of various individual entities — the student groups — coming together to make cohesive decisions about issues they are all facing.
“We are all feeling underrepresented and unheard,” said CU senior Jasmine Maciel, president of the Pi Lambda Chi Latino sorority. “Here we are one. We will have more of a voice on campus now that we’re united.”
CU junior Funmi Oyatogun, representing the African Student Association in the council, said she hopes to use their joint voice to gain more significant roles for minority leaders in CU’s Student Government.
“We are not represented in CUSG,” Oyatogun said. “I’m hoping we can come together and change that soon.”
“I think the group will at least give us a strong voice to talk to CUSG with and make sure they’re hearing our issues and considering them,” she said.
CUSG officials refused multiple requests for interviews Friday.
Kristy Gustavson, CUSG’s director of public relations sent an emailed statement regarding the concerns of Oyatogun.
“It is always regrettable for CUSG when any student or group feels that their needs are not being adequately met by their student government,” Gustavson wrote in the email. “We at CUSG are always striving to be accessible and helpful to all students on campus.”
Oyatogun said last fall some minority students ran for office but were not elected by the student body.
“Students vote for what’s familiar,” Oyatogun said.
Lawal said the council meetings will allow student groups to coordinate event and meeting schedules, which will create more support among the various groups.
“Right now there’s some overlap of events so everyone is getting a smaller turnout,” Lawal said. “Hopefully with our calendar and meetings we can coordinate schedules and show our support for one another.”
The meetings will also give the underrepresented students a chance to vote on future actions or take a stance on campus issues to present to CUSG and other university administration.
Lawal said they’re encouraging any interested student group to send two representatives to their Feb. 8 meeting and are welcoming any student or university affiliate to attend.
“We are not seen and heard as much as we’d like in our individual groups,” Lawal said. “But in one large unified setting, I think we’ll gain a bigger voice for our groups and the students represented in them.”