At the most recent Senate meeting, an act to make the position of Diversity and Inclusion Director a permanent facet of the ASWC Executive Council was ratified. Considering that this position was created just this year (in Fall 2016, by sitting ASWC president Arthur Shemitz), this is significant. Cherokee Washington, who currently holds the position, had this to say about the ratification: “creating this position and making it permanent in the same year is a testament to ASWC’s dedication to listening to the student body’s needs”.
Cherokee described the position as, “ASWC’s way of telling the administration that diversity and inclusion is an exigency that needs immediate attention and cannot be ignored anymore”. She added that, “There are many things [the administration] can do to encourage more diversity. More scholarships, becoming a school member of the POSSE foundation, recruiting students from more regions outside of the Northwest and California, actively listening and reacting to student needs more effectively and timely, providing students of color with more representation within the faculty, providing students of color with more mentors, and better tending to the needs of students of color who are already at Whitman”. She hopes that these goals can be accomplished in the near future.
Cherokee also hopes that, through encouragement by this position, social justice issues at Whitman will be better addressed on a more basic, student-to-student level through open discussion and thoughtful action. Several students have already expressed interest in helping her with this, many of which are people of color or are from underrepresented backgrounds.
On a more personal note, she added that, “I’m big on ‘flipping the boat’ instead of rocking it, therefore I’ve tried to bring a fire and intensity that’s allowed us to be civilly radical in communicating issues or demands with the administration”. Considering that the Strategic Planning Committee has stated that diversity is a priority for the school, such ambitions will likely be realized.