Twenty years ago multiple cultural organizations at St. Cloud State University felt underrepresented and mistreated on campus. To gather the attentions of the student body and faculty, this group of determined students decided to take action to voice their concerns; they had 13 demands in total and vowed to fast until the agreements were met.
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, or MEChA, was at the forefront of this battle between the underrepresented student population and university officials.
Some of the demands include the creation of the multi cultural resource center, the establishment of the student cultural center, a commitment to retain and recruit more faculty/students of color, and for the student government system to add the cultural diversity chair to the student senate.
Currently, the cultural diversity chair is empty and student government has been in the process of urging potential students to run for the position.
“It’s an awesome year to be in this position because it will be the 15h anniversary of the Hunger Strike on May 5th 2015. Celebrations are being planned already,” said student body president Lindsey Gunnerson. “The chair position is elected through the council of cultural organizations, they would serve as president of council and as chair on student government.”
“St. Cloud State is 141 years old, but it wasn’t until nearly 100 years after its founding when doors opened to students from groups that had been largely shut out of most public college and university campuses. College was no longer for the select few, thanks to civil rights laws, federal financial aid and changing attitudes about the value of a college education for individuals representing all races, religions, genders and physical abilities,” said St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter in an article called “Respecting the spirit of diversity” written in 2010, in reference to the cultural diversity hunger strike of 1995.
“We’ve been struggling ever since to get it right. Struggling to be more than a place that says it is open and welcoming to all students who want to come here for an education and all faculty and staff who want to be a part of providing that education. Struggling to be what we say we are for a student of color population that has grown to 1,560,” said Potter.
This student government chair position is imperative to conserve cultural balance in student government and to prolong the spirit of equality and harmony on campus.
Students who are interested in the position should stop by the Multicultural Student Services office in Atwood or contact Dr. Semya Hakim.