This semester, the United Minorities Council is seeking to make a name for itself by creating a stronger community around unifying issues.
UMC was established in the 1970s in order to provide funding, support and communication facilitation between minority groups on campus. The group currently oversees 25 organizations and represents nearly 50 percent of Penn’s student body. However, many students still do not know what the group does.
“I think because we are an umbrella group and we don't have direct contact with students [that] people don’t know who we are,” UMC Vice Chair Temilola Ransome-Kuti said. “Personally, I want to change that.”
One of the many misconceptions students have about UMC is that its only job on campus is funding, UMC Chair Tanya Jain said.
“There is a lot that we do in the background with the administration and with our groups,” Jain said. She gave the example of the new Greek cultural competency training, which is in the process of being developed, as one of the many ways in which UMC is attempting to involve itself in campus.
UMC has been meeting with university administrators for the past month in order to establish cultural competency training for representatives within Greek life. These students would attend competency retreats and then later share their new knowledge with their respective houses.
“The idea being are you going to listen to me, someone you don’t know or someone from your own organization,” Jain said.
She hopes that by starting with Greek life, this sort of training can spread to the rest of campus.
“It’s a campus issue for sure, but [Greek life] is a good place to start,” she said, “especially because they are so visible.”
In addition to working on cultural training for those on campus, UMC also hopes to get involved in activism, though this has proved difficult with a group of its size and diversity.
“There is always one group that might be offended,” Jain said.
Despite the difficulties associated with activism in such a diverse group, it has still been able to rally around certain key issues.
“I feel like financial aid and faculty diversity are all issues that we can get people to care about,” Ransome-Kuti said. “I think it is easy for students to look out and want to see more professors that look like them."
In addition to engaging in more activism, Jain hopes that when her term as chair is up, she has created a more cohesive minority community.
“At our GBMs I want people laughing and smiling and getting to know each other from different groups,” she said. “ I want to build a community.”
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