In conjunction with Wheaton College’s stated commitment to expand diversity on campus, Student Government passed an amendment to the SG constitution to approve the Racial Diversity Grant, as proposed by the Executive Vice President of Community Diversity (EVPCD), senior Danny Aguilar.
The grant proposal was passed unanimously on Wednesday, Jan. 23, after a divided vote from the previous meeting. The grant is set for immediate implementation, although four friendly amendments to the proposal will delay the integration of the proposal’s language into the bylaws of the SG constitution.
“The Racial Diversity Grant constitutes a new approach that responds directly to the problems of racial division and minority underrepresentation by encouraging student clubs to host events that will cultivate racial understanding, reconciliation and ultimately Christ-centered unity through racial diversity,” Aguilar said.
According to Aguilar, the grant’s goal of “Christ-centered unity through racial diversity” serves two purposes: to create more opportunities for white majority students to “step into the worlds of minority students” and to enfranchise minority students “into the main engine for cultural celebrations and interactions at Wheaton College, which happens to be the SAO.”
Aguilar said, “Of the 74 (College Union) concert artists who have visited Wheaton between calendar years 1997 and 2012, only nine have been non-white.”
Aiming to incentivize rather than subsidize group events that promote racial diversity, grant money will not be allocated until after events have occured “to ensure quality, utility and diversity-related content.”
A group’s past spending history as well as its current financial situation will not necessarily bar or guarantee its acquisition of the grant, although the EVPCD will request the financial history of applicants from the Executive Vice President of Technology and Finance (EVPTAF).
Regardless of the longevity of the grant, its integration into the constitution is necessary for consistency in SG’s protocol for grants and allocations, Student Activities Director Steve Ivester said during Wednesday’s meeting.
Previous disagreement over the grant proposal surrounded the role of funds distribution: The amendment gives the EVPCD oversight over the allocation of grant funds, which seemed to override the jurisdiction of the EVPTAF.
According to the SG constitution, the EVPTAF represents “student concerns on matters related to the financial life of the College (and) the continued viability of student organizations and clubs that receive funding from the Student Government.”
Senior Ryan Jenkins, the current EVPTAF, said that his role involves ensuring the wise allocation and use of SG funds by recipient groups.
“This grant has obvious emotional appeal to the EVPCD in terms of promoting cultural diversity, driving anyone in that position to naturally promote it fervently,” Jenkins said. “The not-so-obvious counterpoint is the EVPTAF’s natural desire to fund quality events and their already formed relationships with all of the clubs as outlined by the constitution.”
The grant will be available to official student groups outside of the Student Activities Office (SAO), as SAO organizations have larger budgets than groups in other offices.
More information on the Racial Diversity Grant is available at the Community Diversity Committee at Wheaton College Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.