After last semester’s unrest on campus, ASCMC has taken a step in its efforts to improve campus climate with the nomination and confirmation of Patrick Elliott ’19 as the first Diversity and Inclusion Chair. The position was created after ASCMC held a series of discussions with members of the CMC community about how CMC can build a more supportive climate that represents and serves CMCers, especially those of marginalized or underrepresented identities. They concluded with an overarching goal of facilitating healthy and productive communication within the CMC student body as a whole.
As chair, Elliott will be responsible for organizing programming for identity- and affinity-based groups, with the goal of developing a support system for marginalized and underrepresented students. Additionally, Elliott will act as a liaison between administration, faculty, students, and ASCMC, as well as promote active support for diversity and inclusion throughout the entire CMC community. Elliott will work with a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and ultimately discern which groups are within the focus and purpose of the Chair and Committee positions. This week, Elliott announced the five representatives who will serve on the Committee from the student groups CMCers of Color, Generation University (GenU), Brothers and Sisters Alliance (BSA), Asian Pacific American Mentors (APAM), and Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA). In addition to the standing members from those groups, the Committee will also have three at-large student representatives; applications for those spots are due this Saturday.
Elliott believes his qualifications will aid him in helping ASCMC create a more inclusive community. In addition to helping create his high school’s Diversity and Equity Committee, Elliott ran his high school’s black student union, went to multiple national diversity conferences, and led several demonstrations. Towards the end of his high school career, Elliott was awarded the prestigious Princeton Prize in Race Relations. At CMC, Elliott is currently a member of multiple committees working towards the addition of more inclusive general education requirements and the creation of a permanent resource center for marginalized students.
Despite having a shorter term as D&I Chair, since the position was created mid-year, Elliott has many plans for this semester. Elliott said that he has been in communication with affinity groups regarding a “cultural week” and plans to screen movies that the D&I Committee feels will embody certain cultures and affinities, as well as show the struggle that those groups have endured. For Black History Month, Elliott said that he plans on “bringing in a few speakers to discuss issues of race and will be working closely with BSA to make February a very educational yet fun heritage month.” He has already begun to host weekly open forums and has set up a website to receive suggestions, in order to get a feel for what students need from him and accommodate them.
Regarding the resource center, Elliott is in contact with CMCers of Color — the student group who first called on CMC to create the center — to help vitalize the temporary resource space, while also helping to plan the permanent space to come. Elliott plans to seek advice from other campuses’ resource centers, and will also be reaching out to the chaplains’ offices to see what type of religious counseling he can organize for students affected by the events of last semester. “As of now we have two sessions in place,” Elliott said of the counseling opportunities. “One will be available solely to the protestors, and the other will be open to the entire school. There really wasn’t a chance to provide those grieving because of events of last semester closure so that is what the Chaplains and I are going to try to achieve.”
Furthermore, Elliott is working on providing diversity training for ASCMC’s Executive Board and the college’s First Year Guides, who lead orientation trips for incoming students. “A lot of freshmen felt out of the loop regarding the demonstrations last semester,” Elliott explained, “and if our First Year Guides are trained to have these conversations, I see that as being a great benefit to our first year programming. I am in contact with Dean Weyman to make this happen.”
Lastly, Elliott hopes to iron out the kinks of the position during his first term, so that in the future the D&I chair and its subcommittee can be more effective. Elliott said that he looks forward to bringing a voice to those who feel their opinion is unheard on campus, and wants this position to change what people think of when they think about CMC. Regarding his nomination — which some students opposed on the grounds that he was not one of the candidates recommended by a subcommittee including members of CMCers of Color, BSA, GenU, APAM, and SAGA — Elliott said, “I think we all need to recognize that getting things done on this campus is more important than regulating who is the one causing the change.”