Reinstating the second Inclusiveness & Intercultural Services seat was put on hold Thursday after members of the Intercom board realized they weren’t sure what its purpose was.
The group met for an hour and a half to discuss Student Body President Brent Folan’s decision earlier this week to eliminate one of the two seats held by IIS. But it quickly became clear that the group lacked focus about their mission.
“I didn’t even know Intercom existed until the student creed came out [in April 2012]. We need to let everyone on campus know what we are and what we are doing,” National Residence Hall Association president Lakota Cheek said.
According to former vice chancellor of student affairs Don Mills, former Dean of Student Affairs Elizabeth Proffer started Intercom in the 1970s. Its purpose was to allow students’ voices to be heard by the administration. It began presenting student opinion to the Board of Trustees in the late 1980s, according to former vice chancellor of student affairs Don Mills.
“Intercom never had any kind of constitution or bylaws,” Mills, former Intercom advisor said.
Folan said he eliminated the second IIS seat on Monday because all of the other student organizations represented on Intercom only have one seat.
This action prompted TCU NAACP president Gabrielle McBay to start a petition drive to have seat restored. IIS representative Marisol Sigala said she had collected 168 signatures so far, and that some athletes who are also IIS members are planning to take the petitions to their respective teams.
Some board members claimed that the group should be nothing more than a “think-tank,” while others said that there should be more organizational structure.
Folan, a senior finance major, did say that the group has voted in the past.
“We voted on the student creed, which is now a huge thing,” Folan said.
The two IIS seats represented all “non-traditional” students, including transfer students, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community as well as student veterans and minority groups.
In addition to the debate about organizational purpose and the second IIS seat, Thursday’s discussion also touched on subjects such as race.
“Over the years, this group has been primarily Caucasian,” assistant vice chancellor for student affairs Barbara Herman said. “One thing to think about would be why the group sitting at this table is not more diverse.”
Involved Service Network representative Meg Mathews agreed.
“We have two people of color sitting at this table. That means we bring our white privilege to the table,” Mathews said. “We all have different lenses that we look through, and we need to have other perspectives voiced.”
IIS representative Marisol Sigala said she would like the second seat back, but that her priority is to have additional seats added for the Multicultural Greek Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Independent Greek Council.
“They are Greek, and would like to be acknowledged as Greek,” Sigala said.
Folan said that he was concerned about adding too many new seats and being unfair to the rest of the board.
“If we start adding seats, where do we stop,” Folan asked.
Folan also said that his biggest concern about Intercom was equality for everyone, and that it “kills him” that students feel uncomfortable about voicing their concerns.
There will be another Intercom meeting in two weeks, where Folan is expected to make a decision about the IIS seat.
Intercom is a panel made up of 11 members from various student organizations. The members are as follows:
1) Interfraternity Council
2) Panhellenic Council
3) Inclusiveness & Intercultural Services
4) Involved Service Network
5) Student Foundations
6) Student Body Vice-President
7) Student Body President
8) John V. Roach Honors College
9) National Residence Hall Association
10) Leadership Center
11) International Student Association
IIS includes the following organizations:
1) African Heritage Organization
2) Black Student Association
3) Gay Straight Alliance
4) Asian Student Association
5) International Student Association
6) Muslim Student Association
7) Students for Asian Indian Cultural Awareness
8) Soul Steppers
9) Word of Truth Gospel Choir
10) Brothers of a Successful Standard
11) Caribbean Student Association
12) National association of Colored Women’s Club
13) Sisters Transcending and Reaching Success
14) Student Veteran Organization
15) United Latino Association