The UT Campus Climate Response Team is working to develop protocols and procedures for responding to bias issues on and around campus that affect campus climate, but lacks student representation, according to Student Body President Kevin Helgren.
On Tuesday, Helgren introduced Assembly Resolution 19 which supports the creation of a Campus Climate Advisory Board, which would allow students to give feedback and recommendations to University administrators on campus climate issues.
“The spirit behind the CCAB is to bring together students from all different pockets,” said Helgren, a neuroscience and psychology senior. “We want to make sure that we are both reactive when situations call for it as well as proactive so that we make sure we don’t run into too many situations that call for it.”
Should the CCAB be created, Vice President of Student Affairs Soncia Reagins-Lilly said she would fund them as part of her budget, Helgren said. He also said the resolution proposes that the Diversity and Inclusion Agency Director role in the CCRT would be reserved for a student representative.
“CCRT currently lacks student representation and we certainly want student voices to be heard during these climate conversations,” Helgren said.
Helgren said the idea behind the passing of this resolution is to let the administration know that support for institutions like the CCAB is widespread.
Vice President Binna Kim said a great addition to the resolution is training for CCAB members at the beginning of the school year from a professor within the School of Social Work.
“This will give members a better idea of how to have these difficult conversations and have context on how to learn from people with different perspectives,” said Kim, a marketing senior.
Chief of Staff Isaiah Carter said since there is a mechanism in the resolution that would allow several spots to open up annually, any new community of people that develops in the coming years will have the ability to apply to be on the board.
“Part of the reason we wanted to do this is because there are so many communities on campus, and if you ask me, I’m not convinced that they all communicate enough with each other,” Carter, a government junior. “This is a way to get all of them in the same room to talk about hard topics and respond to things.”
Carter said the resolution will also reserve seats for several communities on the advisory board that the student government will regulate.
“It will be our job to include a member of the African American community, the Palestinian community, the Jewish community and the LGBTQ community,” Carter said. “These spots will not change.”
Helgren said there will be open invitations to groups on campus that do not feel represented on the board to talk to them about responses they would like to see the board display.
“We will certainly make sure that these voices have a seat at the table,” Helgren said.
Currently, the resolution does not have a list of reserved members for the board, because the resolution is only intended for the administration to look further into this issue.
The resolution has been submitted to the Student Affairs Committee for further review.