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Diversity Quotas, Hooray! [UPDATED]

Just received this email via ASUO Multicultural Advocate Alexis White, via the infamous United States Student Association:

Currently the USSA Board of Directors is in violation of diversity guidelines. It is important that we respect these guidelines for reasons we all might or might not understand. The Board has not met the diversity guidelines stipulated in the Constitution, which require that 30% of the Board identify as openly queer. So there are opportunities for those that are interested in applying for the DREAMERS Caucus Chair or as a at large Board member.

This is very important and I am taking the diversity guidelines very seriously. When we set guidelines as a organization it is important that we all do our part to meet them. I have attached the documents via Google docs underneath. Please consider applying to the positions and/or forward to anyone you know that might be interested.

The question arises: does one need to identify directly with a specific group of people to advocate on their behalf? I have a good friend — a white friend — who recently started work with the NAACP. She advocates on behalf of a population she is NOT a part of and — SURPRISE — does a pretty damn good job. It is certainly possible for individuals outside a certain demographic to advocate for those in that demographic. Maybe this is why the ASUO has been without a Non-Traditional Student Advocate for so long. Maybe if the student government understood that traditional students can advocate on behalf of non-traditional students, the non-trads might be better off.

Additionally, where did the 30% figure come from? Why not 20%, or 10%, a figure closer to the general makeup of the out-and-queer population of the United States? It’s likely an arbitrary number that a few students in a room (traveling on the student dime) came up with and decided they needed to fulfill, to maintain a commitment to diversity, or something. Personally, I’d prefer competent students serving on USSA boards regardless of sexual orientation than limiting the open positions to a very specific demographic, thus creating a smaller pool of applicants and a likely less competent supply of board members. But that’s just me.

This brings up another good point. How gay do you have to be to be a member? Is there some sort of gay-o-meter? What if you make out with a girl at a party, does that count? Do you have to date your girlfriend/boyfriend for a specific amount of time in order to be considered? Oh, but I digress.

The United States Student Association (and also the Oregon Student Association) have long faced criticism from the Oregon Commentator for wasting student money on conferences so people can discuss various pieces of legislation and continue to “advocate for students.” Bigger pieces of that tasty financial pie go to board members. Why not open that up to all members of the student populace? Isn’t that the point of the United States Student Association, to advocate on behalf of all students? Then let all students apply to be on student boards, regardless of skin color / sexual orientation / breakfast food preference. Maybe USSA could ACTUALLY serve students instead of taking student money and hiding it away at a retreat site in Seattle.

UPDATE:

Dear USSA,

Please upload your governing documents in a format that has a file extension, so interested parties can open them.

Thanks,

Oregon Commentator

  1. Gsim says:

    There is no gay. If it is pretty fuck it.

  2. Marshall says:

    I’m guessing the gay-o-meter and chicks making out comments were meant to be funny. Which they were.
    You know that whole satire thing that the OC is amazing at?(and why as a 27 year old gay man I still take the time to read it)
    Quota’s are ridiculous.
    To set out an agenda of recruiting more homo’s and then actually putting that plan into action is great. But to set a hard and fast number and then through lack of recruiting and outreach (i.e. having meetings to make ourselves feel really good and then going home to continue sitting on our asses) and then fall short and then send out a panic email is silly.
    BTW- when I was in school (LCC) way back in the day the person that I admired the most when it came to students working on queer issues was a straight bi-racial man.

  3. CJ says:

    I think Lyzi focused on the queer quota because that’s what the e-mail was about. Perhaps. Just maybe.

  4. HPDX says:

    I’m still amazed that no one else seems to think the “gay o meter” and makeout comments betray a more personal objection, rather than an objection to the system. But, ok.

    Bamberger, You fabricate a “‘black allied power’ shtick” I never espoused, and so needn’t defend. Then you meandered through some namecalling, and claimed there’s nothing wrong with hypocrites. There was nothing substantive to respond to. I suppose that if you truly feel that hyprocrisy is ok, I can tell you you are a towering example of the worst kind of citizen for this or any country. Is that better?

  5. Betz says:

    HPDX:

    I think its perfectly valid to focus on one diversity group in general for an article that was initially authored in response to an email that ALSO focused on one group. Unlike AP English class, you do not get extra bonus points for trying to abstract and discuss the “larger issue” at hand … I think Lyzi’s point was well stated, and relevant to the topic at hand.

  6. CJ says:

    I, for one, would just like to say I’m glad the “recent comments” feed is back.

  7. Bamberger says:

    I guess I win the argument, since you couldn’t come up with anything substantial, HPDX.

    Thank you for conceding.

    P.S.: Nothing wrong with hypocrites, as long as the point gets across.

  8. HPDX says:

    Mark, *your* response is thoughtful analysis of a complex problem, and I thank you for it. This article, on the other hand, remains as inarticulate and misdirected as it was two days ago.

    My underlying point was (and remains) that focusing on *one* group’s quota makes this argument hypocritical by design.

    If you’re against the singling out of these groups, than you’re against singling them out REGARDLESS of whether you’re on they yay side of the nay side. The article tries to conflate “I am against this system” with “I am against this group in the system” and (in addition to being distasteful) falls on its face on the process.

    Bamberger, I hear Glenn Beck needs a new reactionary lackey, someone who can put words in other people’s mouths whilst fetching his coffee. Haveat! Yeesh.

  9. Bamberger says:

    HPDX,

    You can save the “black allied power” schtick. Not to mention that affirmative action does not work. It’s all a bunch of liberal talking points that ignores reality.

    They don’t merit representation. Why don’t they just get a job on their own merits instead of demanding this “30% representation” crunk? Probably because they’re not only lazy, but a bunch of entitlement queens. And before you say anything, I have a name for you: Toby Hill-Meyer. One of the laziest idiots I have ever met.

  10. Mark Diamond says:

    There are really two arguments here: One, should there be quotas at all? and two, if there are quotas, should they reflect the demographics of the student population? As to the first question, the idea of quotas or affirmative action originally derived from the fact that certain groups have historically been unable to compete on a level playing field with other groups due to past or current discrimination. In an organization where each person has an equivalent ability to serve and discrimination does not play a part, quotas are irrelevant. All students are permitted to be members of this organization; no evidence of any discrimination in the selection of board members has been asserted. In such circumstances, a person of any demographic could be proposed as a member of the governing group and the only criterion for selection should be the strength of his or her commitment to the goals of the organization. As to the second question, if quotas are found to serve some valid purpose in furthering the organization’s goals, the quotas should bear some reasonable relationship to the mandate of the governing group. It might be appropriate to overweight gay representation if the organization’s mission is to advocate for gay rights. If the organization is mandated to advocate for the rights of students in general, it would be more reasonable to establish quotas based on the different student interest groups, such as athletes, graduate students, working students, participants in extra-curricular activities, etc.

    This article is a thoughtful analysis of a complex problem and the author should be applauded for taking what might be considered an unpopular stand on a highly fraught issue.

  11. HPDX says:

    And, see, I’d say that forced diversity (from busing to affirmative action) is a complex issue worthy of thoughtful debate.

    All this article does, though, is whine about (ok, focus on) the one group the author doesn’t think merits representation. Otherwise, she’d be writing about the quotas as a whole, not making halfjokes where the punchline is “being gay is complicated” …?

  12. Bamberger says:

    HPDX and others:

    The Commentator, from my experience, is less about the quota than the fact that we actually NEED diversity guidelines. Diversity is great, but forced diversity is, to say the least, tyranny and deserving of being wedgied and lifted up the flagpole.

  13. HPDX says:

    I have trouble buying that your problem is with the quotas themselves, as opposed to your simply not liking that there’s a quota for the queer community. Sure, the bylaws are vague, but you breeze past the race and gender quotas, focus only on the 30%, then ask rhetorical (though still wildly stupid) questions about gay-o-meters and girls making out at parties. If you want to write an editorial about not liking the queer quota, you should just write it instead of hiding behind some supposed conceptual objection.

  14. Personally says:

    Honestly,
    I think the commenter’s statement that, “it is important to keep in mind that an ally can only be an ally in so far as they understand that there are only certain perspectives that can be expressed by those that are actually members of the communities themselves,

  15. 20% says:

    there will always be concerns that those outside of a community (socioeconomic status, religion, ethnicity, etc.) cannot completely usterstand. that doesn’t legitimize a quota, let alone such an unreasonably high quota for LBGTQ folk.

    “it is important to keep in mind that an ally can only be an ally in so far as they understand that there are only certain perspectives that can be expressed by those that are actually members of the communities themselves.”

    the OC disagrees with your opinion, so they must not be an ally, and those who aren’t allies are bigots.

  16. Alex E says:

    I am really shocked and appalled at your reactions here. Diversity guidelines are set in place for a reason. There is not a mention that there should be exclusion on behalf of those that advocate on behalf of marginalized an oppressed communities. However, it is important to keep in mind that an ally can only be an ally in so far as they understand that there are only certain perspectives that can be expressed by those that are actually members of the communities themselves. Wow, y’all, wow. Oh! Wait!! This is The Commentator..OHHHHHHH, makes sense now.

  17. Lauren S. says:

    Well said Lyzi. We should all be allowed to represent whatever we feel is just, regardless of whatever differences we may have.

  18. TyTy says:

    1/3 has to be openly Queer? I thought that was a joke at first. Is the point to oppress straight people?

  19. Rivers Cuomo says:

    Everyone’s a little queer.

  20. 20% says:

    “require that 30% of the Board identify as openly queer”

    how “openly” queer? if my parents know, but not my roomates is that open enough? how about if i don’t tell my co-workers, but I tell others? do I have to have my queer card on me at all times?

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