At Wednesday’s Duke Student Government meeting, staff from the Duke Center for Multicultural Affairs discussed the experiences of racial minority and low-income students at Duke.
CMA is a student affairs department that focuses on promoting “community engagement, multicultural education, leadership development and social justice education among the student population,” according to its website.
The department advises various cultural groups on campus, helps organize cultural events and provides other support services—including organic chemistry peer tutoring sessions.
Student Development Coordinator Elmer Orellana spoke about examples of hardship that international students often experience on campus.
“There is a lack of representation of racially minoritized faculty and staff,” Orellana said. “Currently there are no native or indigenous faculty here at Duke, and some faculty and staff don’t recognize that there are native students here at Duke. This is sometimes problematic with the microaggressions that they may face.”
Student Development Coordinator Carol Dinh also commented on classism, emphasizing the importance of being considerate in everyday conversations.
“‘Just pick up an internship!’ Well, sometimes students can’t. A lot of internships are unpaid,” Dinh told the Senate. “‘Oh, you’re going to get so much experience from it!’ Some students just can’t afford that because they already have two or three jobs to make it at Duke.”
After the presentation, Senator Anna Zolotor, a first-year, asked the CMA staff how senators should approach interactions with cultural groups on campus.
“We can serve as your first point of contact or bridge to these organizations,” Orellana said. “With a lot of our groups, it’s about relationships. If they don’t have a relationship with you, or especially have distrust with your organization, they may not respond to you.”
In other business:
The Senate unanimously funded Diya $2,950 for their Awaaz afterparty and Duke Chinese Theater $5,109.60 for their stage play showcase. Delta Delta Delta was funded $1,500 for a speaker event in the Biological Sciences building. The Hindu Students Association was also funded $5,100 for their annual Diwali festival celebration event.
Meanwhile, the Senate recognized new caucus chair members: Senator Ivan Robles, a senior for the Latinx Caucus; Senators Christina Wang and Nehal Jain, both sophomores, for the Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus; Senator Priya Parkash, a sophomore, for the International Caucus; Senator Kaitlyn Boncaro, a junior, for the First Generation Low-Income Caucus; and Senator Shrey Majmudar, a sophomore, for the Mental Health Caucus.
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Editor’s Note: Anna Zolotor is a staff reporter for The Chronicle. Priya Parkash is a University News Editor for The Chronicle.