Providing for students’ needs

As the Minority Coalition (MinCo) establishes new protocols for its meetings and membership, it is promising to see that the organization is working to open its operations to the campus at large. Under the MinCo umbrella, many groups discuss important issues faced by College community members. When these forces – from the Jewish Religious Center and the Black Student Union to the Women’s Center and the Queer Student Union – are combined, it seems that a large swath of campus has the potential to identify with at least one MinCo subgroup. Through this lens, it makes sense that the organization’s voting processes and general activity should be open to the entire student body, and we applaud MinCo for taking this important step.

When students arrive at the College, many are too intimidated to join any sort of group – let alone a group that defines itself based on an identity that is different from the majority. Currently, many students see Morley Circle, the home of many MinCo organizations, as an exclusive place where only those who are already informed and passionate about an issue can hold sway. Informing the community as to the goals of individual MinCo meetings will encourage more students, whether for one day or for their entire college career, to get involved. This incremental approach, wherein students may become increasingly comfortable and aware discussing delicate issues, provides a means for students to take advantage of the resources MinCo has allotted.

As it attempts to increase its visibility, MinCo should actively consider its current role – and its ideal role – at the College. It seems that some organizations within MinCo remain more support-based, whereas others look to change the status quo through activism. While both approaches are legitimate and can certainly coexist, MinCo’s overall success is contingent on students feeling the initial support upon which to build activist efforts. In many cases, the best way to offer support requires changing the status quo, but groups should be sure to accommodate both constituencies. It is crucial to recognize that support and activism operate on a continuum, even if all of the distinct stages on this spectrum are working towards a common goal.

Naturally, the students who take the initiative to attend MinCo meetings are those who are seriously invested in the issues it considers. Opening MinCo operations further encourages less-inclined students to take that first step, but more can be done to foster this relationship and make MinCo an organization that all feel welcome to join.