Student Government column
Editor’s Note: Dominique Escandon is the Cabinet Writer of The Student Government.
It would be unjust of Student Government leaders to pretend that current events don’t affect students’ lives on campus, regardless of the looming legacy of the Carnegie Mellon Bubble. In light of this, an official statement was posted on Vaasavi Unnava (Student Body President) and Aaron Gutierrez’s (Student Body Vice President) Facebook page as an offering of support to the members of our community who might be feeling distressed by the recent deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of the police.
When regarding matters of campus wellness, Student Government should take an active role in addressing the unique struggles each student might face during their time at Carnegie Mellon, since these challenges can’t be alleviated or resolved without being recognized first. However, we must also serve as a representative voice of our diverse community, unbiased and undeclared in political standing, in order to not stifle potential important discussions on issues or movements that could arise elsewhere on campus.
Some of the most important and relevant discussions about race relations, mental health awareness, or sexual health that I’ve engaged in at Carnegie Mellon, be it with my roommate on a Tuesday at 2 a.m. when I should have been studying (or maybe cramming is the better word), or at a casual dinner with my friends, have occurred naturally outside of the influence of Student Government. This is, in part, because we felt free to express our ideas without the weight of a superficial entity or stance placed upon us by student leaders we might have never had a conversation with.
What’s so amazing about these moments is that they indicate that our community really is invested in bettering itself and is aware of the steps it must take to accomplish its respective goals. This was heavily reflected in the most recent State of the University, organized by the Community Advisers, centered around Colin Kaepernick, #BlackLivesMatter, and how these events affect Carnegie Mellon.
Once more, it was recognized that Carnegie Mellon still has a long way to go before it can be considered a fully integrated community. Where are our professors of underrepresented minority groups? How often do we interact with campus policemen of the same, or different, race or gender than us? What is keeping our students from engaging in social discussions, or protesting for a cause they care about? Why has the discussion on Carnegie Mellon’s active role in gentrifying Pittsburgh been so sparse, despite its huge effects to our neighbors? An agreement was established: Carnegie Mellon has to do more.
The most engaging part of the State of the University was the interchange of ideas between campus administrators and students. Our faculty has incredible connections and direct experience with many of these matters and, when paired with the mass innovation of our students and the funding and organizational structure of Student Government, they can create the lasting change towards inclusion and diversity we would all love to see on campus.
So please: continue to engage in meaningful conversation about what you want Carnegie Mellon University to look like in ten years, in five years, or even tomorrow. Seek opportunities to engage with different members of our community and the Pittsburgh community at large, so we can continue to grow our understanding in how we can better ourselves.
And of course, if you ever feel like you need support along the way, you can always reach out to a Student Government Cabinet member for guidance or support.