Student government allocated $15,000 toward club spending on speakers and diversity programs in next year’s student government’s budget at the final Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) meeting May 30.
The money will pay for programs with a diversity focus hosted by any club on campus and will be overseen by ASI officers and a committee with representatives from the student body, the MultiCultural Center and the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion.
“It’s really crucial for ASI to recognize that it’s time we start pushing toward diversity and inclusion issues on campus,” agricultural business senior Nimrah Aslam said.
Aslam has been pushing for structural changes to student government since ASI President and agricultural science senior Riley Nilsen appointed her Secretary of Inclusivity and Diversity at the beginning of the school year, according to Aslam.
Hosting club speakers
It is difficult for the Muslim Student Association (MSA) to host speakers and educate students about Islam because they only have $500 from the ASI budget, business administration senior and MSA President Edreese Gardizi said over the phone.
They typically only host low-cost speakers, like Cal Poly alumnus and graduate student Mehra Gharibian, who spoke for $200 and was paid by the MultiCultural Center. To have the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding Dalia Mogahed speak last year, MSA had to scrounge up $6,000 from ASI, student affairs and different deans around campus.
“It was this effort of going through multiple different people and departments to get one speaker,” Gardizi said.
The idea for the funding came from roundtable events Aslam had with cultural clubs, such as the Chinese Cultural Club, the South West Asian North African Club and MSA over the year.
Impact on club sports
Student government took $10,000 from the Club Co-Sponsorship line item and $5,000 from the Club Special Insurance line item.
The reorganization of ASI’s $3 million budget caused a shortage Club Sports funds after they approved the creation of three more teams this year, each one costing $2,000 to operate. Club Sports was unaware student government was reconsidering the budget when they approved the teams, and business administration senior Samantha Rolander asked the ASI Board of Directors to draw unused money from club spending to support the teams.
“Club Sports provide Cal Poly students with not only the opportunities for athletic training and participating in team sports, but also allow students to take on opportunities in management and team roles,” Rolander said.
Rolander said Club Sports will have to fundraise and reorganize their budgets if they do not receive additional funding.
Standing committees and secretaries
The ASI Board of Directors’ bylaws have also been rewritten to make student government put more focus on diversity
Student government created a committee on diversity and inclusion and established a permanent secretary for diversity and inclusion. There have been secretaries of diversity and inclusion in the past, but they were appointed at the will of the president and were not guaranteed in the bylaws
Statistics senior Mitchell Collins, business administration senior Denise Hensley, and history senior James Smith worked together with Aslam to push the $15,000 in funding and change the ASI bylaws.
“Issues of diversity and inclusion do not go away if you ignore them,” Smith said at the May 30 ASI meeting where the Board voted and approved the changes.