The Georgetown University Student Association created a Multicultural Council this year to foster a robust interaction with cultural groups on campus.

The Multicultural Council played a large role in the platform of current GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Vice President Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15) during the executive race this past spring. Tezel and Jikaria placed an emphasis on giving a larger voice to students and organizations representing cultural diversity on campus.

According to Multicultural Council Chair Eng Gin Moe (SFS ’16), GUSA has not always reflected Georgetown’s cultural diversity, with certain cultural groups lacking full representation.

“Student government, by definition, is supposed to represent each and every single person on our campus,” Moe wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We, however, see that cultural groups and the multicultural community have not been well-represented in the policies and mindset of past GUSA administrations.”

The council is comprised of six representatives, chosen based on their prominence in their respective cultural communities.

“We are also in constant interaction with people from those [cultural] communities,” Deputy Chair Rodrigo Gonzalez (SFS ’15) said.”The Multicultural Council has six representatives and we pick those representatives based on their involvement in their communities. … And we pick in order to really connect with those groups and with those people.”

Ayodele Aruleba (COL ’17) is a representative from the African Society of Georgetown,

“My experience as a coordinator on the council has been great because I get to interact with a group of student leaders that put great value on working with cultural groups and the greater campus community to bring the issues surrounding multiculturalism and diversity on campus to the forefront of Georgetown,” Aruleba wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Any cultural group on campus is also able to choose a representative to take part in council meetings to speak about any issues their group is facing.

“Each group commits one person, one of their own in the community, to come to a larger group meeting where hopefully every single cultural group at Georgetown will be represented and then can air their opinions about the state of things,” Gonzalez said.

The council also seeks to help with collaboration by serving as a resource for each cultural group, including providing guidance for event planning. At the beginning of this semester, the council worked with Welcome Week to put on the World’s Fair, a major collaborative event between cultural groups on campus.

“We put them in contact with the people they want to talk to and then hopefully they’ll put on a great event and it will be for the better off of the greater Georgetown community,” Gonzalez said.

One main issue that the council plans to change this year is the Student Activities Commission’s funding structure. Currently, SAC dedicates 40 percent of each student group’s budget for food events, which according to Moe, can be problematic.

“This food calculator can hurt cultural groups for two reasons,” Moe wrote. “First, cultural groups usually have food at a higher percentage of their events due to the importance of food to many different cultures. Secondly, cultural food can and often does cost more than Domino’s pizza. As a result of these two issues, the low priority on food can be a barrier to cultural groups.”

According to Moe, the council is working with Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson to create a group that may create cultural funding group.

The council hopes to make concrete changes over the course of the semester, according to Gonzalez.

“The aim is for this to not be all talk,” Gonzalez said. They plan to have continuous interactions through four biweekly working groups that deal with topics such as academics, funding, student life and cross-cultural collaboration.”

Brilliantly British Club President Beatrice Fabris (COL ’16), along with other club leaders, gave feedback to the Multicultural Council throughout its development and said that she is hopeful about the role the new council will play on campus.

“We think it’s a great idea to promote cultural engagement, particularly with all the diverse cultures that Georgetown has to offer and especially because every culture has its own sort of regimented tradition and what have you, it’s nice that there is a unifying body that in theory is representing us all,” Fabris said.

Aruleba said that the council allows student clubs to have more of a voice in student government and on campus.

“The Multicultural Council has done a very good job in giving people who are a part of cultural clubs unparalleled access to the leaders within GUSA,” Aruleba said. “Having people who are involved within the various cultural communities around campus as a part GUSA has created a line of communication that will continue to be an integral part of the success of the Multicultural Council.” 

 Correction: A previous version of this article stated the Multicultural Council hosted the World’s Fair. The Council worked with Welcome Week to put on the fair, but was not a host.

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