The umbrella group elected College juniors Jerome Byam and Anita patel the new chairperson and vice chairperson. Bringing to an end the two-year tenure of College senior Chaz Howard as United Minorities Council chairperson, the representatives of the 12 UMC constituent groups came together last night to elect College junior Jerome Byam as its new leader. Byam, a member of the Caribbean American Students Association, said he was appreciative of Howard's work and optimistic about his upcoming time as chairperson. "I think Chaz has left some very tough footsteps to follow, as he has led the UMC through a period of transition and change," Byam said. "I hope to be an effective leader for the UMC and continue to give it direction and focus." Working side by side with Byam next year will be College junior Anita Patel, who was elected vice chairperson of the umbrella organization. Patel ran unopposed and received a majority of the votes, with a few voters abstaining. She will replace College senior Traci Curry. The race was close between Byam and College junior Archana Jayaram, the current programming tri-chairperson of the UMC, with Byam winning by a small margin. "I'm glad I didn't have to vote," Howard said. "I think all the candidates were excellent." Byam's main objectives for the new board include establishing a five-year plan for the UMC to follow and creating a cultural show to expose the University to the various cultures represented by the group. The plan will be "flexible, but I think very directed," Byam said. "It should outline certain goals UMC will wish to achieve." According to Byam, such an outline will enable the UMC to focus on its ongoing objectives, such as minority recruitment and retention among students and faculty. Byam said he would also like to increase the lines of communication between the UMC and the three other minority coalitions, the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, UMOJA and the Latino Coalition, by having monthly meetings attended by representatives of all four groups. The Latino Coalition left the UMC last year, citing a lack of political focus. When asked what he sees as the future between the Latino Coalition and the UMC, Byam said that he "would maintain our current stance where the door is open and [they] are welcome to come in" and rejoin whenever they choose. He added that whether or not the Latino Coalition reapplies for membership in the UMC, the Council should increase its involvement with the coalition. "We should recognize their independence," but still collaborate with them on various projects and common issues, Byam said. During the question and answer period, Byam fielded many questions that helped illuminate his abilities and ideas. He explained his background in dealing with minority issues by telling the voters that he grew up in a multicultural community. That experience, along with his involvement in minority affairs while at the University, helped him to understand a range of issues facing minorities. "I do believe I have a lot to learn about many groups, but I don't think I'm coming from scratch," Byam said. Regarding his ability to use diplomacy when dealing with the administration, Byam responded that he realizes tact and persistence are important. "Your agenda is first on your list but not on theirs," Byam said. "It requires a great deal of persistence." "I am very excited," Patel said. "I hope to see the UMC be more vocal and visible on campus." In order to achieve this end, Patel seeks to "create a link between the minority and non-minority communities on campus." Both outgoing board members Howard and Curry said they were sad to see their time with the UMC come to an end, but are hopeful about the new board's ability to carry on their work and create new directions for the group. "I am acquainted with both Anita and Jerome and I am fully confident in their ability to lead the UMC to bigger and better things," Curry said. The UMC will select the rest of its new leadership team next semester.Comments powered by Disqus
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