Senate weighs options: Gender issues, diversity positions may merge

The Student Senate discussed the possibility of merging two executive board positions, gender issues director and diversity director, during meeting Monday.

If the merger is passed, it would be effective starting next semester.  It will be put to vote on Dec. 17.

Student Body Vice President Jordan Miller believes the two committees have strayed away from reviewing policy and have become primarily concerned with programming.

University of Wisconsin-System statute 36.09(5) states that student governance has the primary responsibility of reviewing and recommending policy and procedures concerning student life, and Miller said he believes they have gotten away from that.

“The diversity director and gender issues director haven’t had enough policy to review, so they picked up programming projects to consume their time,” Miller said.

Miller said he feels diversity is all-inclusive, which would make gender issues a part of diversity.  The position of gender issues director would be taken out of the constitution if the vote is passed since gender issues would fall under diversity.

Gender Issues Director Emily Sawle would be named diversity director if this vote was to pass since current Diversity Director Justin Smoot is graduating at the end of the fall semester.

“Student Senate deals with policy and how it affects student life,” Smoot said.  “Senate should focus on its purpose, which is policy first and programming second.”

“The position of diversity director is focused on many different things,” said Smoot, who has been working on tasks ranging from harassment and discrimination to dealing with issues in resident halls.

Sawle has not had enough policy to consume her time, so she has been working on programs.

“Policy will be looked into if there is a problem,” Sawle said.

Sawle said she is confident she can handle taking on the added responsibility of diversity director.  Miller said he is also confident he has the right person for the job.

“I have full confidence that Emily Sawle will do an excellent job with the added responsibilities,” Miller said.