OPINION: ASWSU just pays lip service to POC

In a debate about multicultural issues, ASWSU is hesitant to acknowledge racial issues

The multicultural debate last Wednesday disappointed me. In a forum for discussion about what each of the candidates planned to do for people of color at WSU, I walked out with no idea what anybody planned to do to address any problems relating to people of color at WSU.

I admit I left early, but I’ve conferred with two people also there, all who agree the debate didn’t address the multicultural aspect of the debate. Every policy mentioned applied to a general problem at WSU, and there’s nothing wrong with addressing general problems, however that’s the point of the general debate. Myself and others came into this expecting the candidates to address the problems people of color face, but the candidates showed that by bringing up the things they’ve done for multicultural communities in the past and then sidestepping using phrases such as “different backgrounds” and other wording that sounds diverse until you realize it conveniently includes white people.

I feel like I know more about their opinion on the Greek community at WSU than their opinion on anything that doesn’t affect white people at WSU, because they could at least talk about Greek problems and plans upfront.

One of the candidates mentioned that the audience was nearly empty (it was). They need to ask themselves why. Because if every multicultural debate is the ASWSU candidates dancing around the idea that people of color have different experiences at WSU, then I’m not going to tell my friends to go to the debate. I’m going to tell them it’s a good way to get annoyed for an hour and feel like their voices aren’t being heard.

Sure, we could be snarky and ask what ASWSU has done for anybody, but I’m betting they do most of their work behind the scenes to maintain WSU. I’m betting if they disappeared we would feel the effect.

In a debate specifically about the multicultural community at WSU, it was up to the audience members to press the candidates for actual policies for WSU’s non-white community, and even then they got nothing. If at a multicultural debate the candidates never refer to the black community or even say black people then I have little faith that they’ll address any problems the black community at WSU faces, and same for other communities. The debate makes me feel that if ASWSU came out and said they planned to not do anything for the multicultural communities, little would change. 

It’s annoying when, as a person of color, the people elected to represent you don’t fully represent you. When the people in the position to care about your problems dance around your problems, it feels like they don’t believe in or care about the problems to begin with. 

“General” policies are not enough at WSU. I’m not saying every single person needs to have their exact needs met by the student body, I’m saying specific communities at this campus have problems because of the color of their skin and when these students are having those problems, it is your responsibility as representatives to acknowledge them and take some action. Yes, we should come to you with them but you need to be looking for it too. At the very least you need to have your ears open, and it doesn’t sound like the candidates do.

And at a debate where we come to see how those problems will be represented, I shouldn’t be waiting the entire time for someone to even mention people of color.

If you care about the minority voice you should be listening to minorities. 

If you don’t care about the minority voice, you don’t really care about the students at WSU. 

Joel Kemegue is a creative writing major from Bellevue, Wash. He can be contacted at 335-1140 or at [email protected]. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent the views of The Daily Evergreen, its editors or publishers.