MinCo reassesses role, work with MCC

The Minority Coalition (MinCo) is currently reassessing what role it plays on campus, including how to better work with the Multicultural Center (MCC) and other groups to provide the best services and events to students.

Renee Robinson ’02 and Rory Kramer ’03, MinCo co-chairs, are both enthusiastic about their reevaluation project.

“We are trying to assess where [MinCo] is at,” Kramer said. “We want to determine what audience we cater to, and how to cater to them. Do we want to create an insular group?”

At the last MinCo meeting on Oct. 23, students laid out the plans for their reassessment project, designating five subcommittees to carry out their proposals. These five groups will examine funding, advocacy, diplomacy, MCC relations and programming.

MinCo’s aims include determining the best way to utilize limited funding and extent of their political involvement on campus.

Members want to work on the relationship between College Council (CC) and MinCo subgroups, and establish how to make event planning more efficient by better communicating with the MCC, as well as laying out a framework for what kinds of events MinCo should be planning.

“We want to create an environment for this campus from which everyone can benefit. This is the major project of the year, and we will try to reconstruct the structures [that currently exist] for next year’s group,” Robinson said.

The co-chairs are both very interested in hearing as many different ideas as possible from students across campus at their reassessment forum. “We want every single different viewpoint on the issue [of what the role of MinCo should be],” Robinson said.

Earlier this year concern arose over the relationship between MinCo and the MCC, due to new distinctions the College had made about liability for alcohol-related issues and funding for parties. The issue was resolved, reaffirming the present policy that the College funds cannot pay for alcohol at parties, but can pay for decorations, food and music.

According to Robinson, MinCo has “a pretty good relationship with the MCC because it is so small. They are really open, available, and accepting of all minority students on campus.”

The conflict earlier in the year had come as somewhat of a shock, as it was the first time that the MCC had drawn a line between the two groups’ power. The two work together often to develop minority events and to discuss minority issues on campus. “Both sides are trying to clarify the distinction between who runs what,” Kramer said.

“I would not actually put things in terms of ’boundaries,’” Gail Newman, director of the MCC, said. “The MCC and MinCo share the common goal of planning events and putting together structures that will facilitate everyone’s education about and enjoyment of the different cultures that are represented on this campus. A good deal of that effort is concentrated in the heritage months and weeks associated with various MinCo groups, and much of the work involved in those heritage events is carried out by MinCo students, though the entire MCC staff provides guidance in the planning process.”

A large part of the reassessment project is focused on MinCo’s relationship with the MCC and the best way to use the center to MinCo’s advantage. “Being a part of a MinCo group puts pressure on students to organize events to benefit themselves, as well as the rest of the campus,” Robinson said.

Group leaders often experience what was expressed in the MinCo meeting minutes as “student leader burnout” as a result of the hectic event-planning schedule. By using the MCC for more community-outreach events, MinCo and other groups will have more freedom to develop their own events.

Newman agreed with Robinson’s sentiments. “If the MCC focused more exclusively and more extensively on educational and cultural programming per se – both in the context of heritage months/weeks and outside of it – MinCo could perhaps structure its social funding and planning in a manner more akin to other students groups who don’t have an agency like the MCC associated with them.”

An open forum, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9 at 9 p.m., will discuss students’ current thoughts on the function of MinCo, including how the group can best accommodate the needs of students and its own members.

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