New MinCo officers envision increased interaction between organizations, student body

The new Minority Coalition (MinCo) Board met for the first time under the leadership of Samee Ahmed ’01 and Peter Munoz ’02 last night. The new chairs hope to “raise the profile of the Minority Coalition,” according to Munoz. While the direction of the MinCo board is determined by the group representatives, Ahmed and Munoz have three specific areas on which they want concentrate: establishing a minority issues forum, becoming “hands-on” leaders and ensuring that the MinCo reps are on every College Council (CC) agenda.

“The vision that we got voted in on was to really integrate MinCo into the campus community at large,” Ahmed said. “We want MinCo to be an active player on the campus scene — we want to work together with all the other groups on campus. That’s what MinCo is all about. A lot of this is in the beginning stages, but it’s very important to increase dialogue, to bring it to a higher level.”

“MinCo should come to be recognized more for its role as the collective voice of specific minority issues on campus — a role that we feel hasn’t been adequately addressed in previous years,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed was the MinCo treasurer and the Muslim Student Union (MSU) rep before becoming co-chair while Munoz was the VISTA rep.

In past years the group has had trouble unifying because of sporadic attendance of its reps. This situation came to a head last year when several groups lost voting power, which forced a rewriting of the MinCo constitution to be rewritten. Since then, however, the group has had consistent attendance. Muñoz noted that this past year represented the solidification of the group which allows the new co-chairs to create a direction for the group. “Now that we’ve solidified as a unit, as a board, we have the potential to really do something,” he said.

One idea they want to pursue is the establishment of forums, potentially similar to the Gaudino forums, or a program that brings speakers to campus, to address issues that concern all minority groups and to add them to campus discussion. “We have a common space for the 13 groups to discuss issues,” Ahmed said. “But our goal is also to facilitate communication between ourselves and the campus at large.”

Munoz explained that one of their important tasks is to ensure the community understands who MinCo is and what MinCo does. “A lot of people don’t understand what we do. Some people think we’re just a funding group, but they don’t know we have so many creative, thinking people right here. Some people don’t know we have a space or they wonder if their card will swipe in…We want people to know about the Multicultural Center (MCC), that there is a space and that they can use it.”

One of the difficulties of disseminating the role of MinCo and the availability of the MCC results from the high-profile Heritage Months that most groups have. While these months serve an important function in focusing on the individual groups, they often obscure the fact that MinCo is behind all of the groups. Munoz said that “with other groups you might hear who funded it; that’s not the point. The Minority Coalition cares about diversity and making sure the campus benefits as a whole.”

Both leaders would like to make the ties between MinCo and CC closer. “Peter and I are very concerned with having MinCo reps on every agenda of every meeting and consistently keeping up with what happens at the meetings,” Ahmed said. “This way we will be ready to bring any minority concerns to College Council. And if they need us for anything, we’re available to them.”

Both Munoz and Ahmed were happy to see CC co-president Todd Rogers ’01at last night’s meeting and are excited about working with CC Co-Presidents Ami Parekh ’01 and Rogers as they feel both are in tune with minority concerns on campus.

The Minority Coalition was founded in 1990 as an umbrella organization for the minority groups on campus. The original 11 members has expanded to 13 groups which include: the Asian American Students in Action (AASIA),the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Union (BGLTU), Chinese American Student Organization (CASO), Koreans at Williams (KOW), the MSU, the South Asian Students Association (SASA), Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA), VISTA, the Williams Black Student Union (WBSU), the Williams International Club (WIC), the Williams Feminist Alliance (WFA), the Williams College Jewish Association (WCJA) and the Asian Theater Project (ATP).