The main minority coalition groups on campus, also known as the 5B, have elected new boards for 2019. This year, the 5B will undergo a major change and will now include the Penn Association for Gender Equity, effectively becoming the 6B. The Daily Pennsylvanian interviewed the leaders about their priorities and ambitions for the year.
College junior Tanya Jain, who will lead as chair of the Penn Association for Gender Equity, said that while PAGE is largely focused on advancing women's issues on campus, they will also advocate for other gender minorities.
Jain added that rape culture and sexual harassment are some of the most pressing issues for women on campus. She hopes to work with the University to create more concrete responses to sexual harassment and assault, particularly in light of the Trump administration’s recent policies.
“Things aren’t becoming better in the world for women obviously,” Jain said. “The Trump administration isn’t creating policies that are helping women.”
Jain also aims to work with Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault to address gender roles and rape culture on campus, specifically related to Greek life.
“We need to have better checks and balances on frats when there are instances of abuse,” Jain said. “They need to be punished more in those instances so this campus knows that rape culture should not be normalized."
College sophomore Kevin Zhou will be chair of the United Minorities Council, which represents more than 30 constituents.
Zhou said he hopes to increase faculty diversity on campus, adding that he will work with the administration and other UMC board members to push the initiative.
He also emphasized the importance of establishing a more collaborative working environment amongst the 6B, especially when pushing for funding initiatives together.
“At the beginning stage each group needed each other for support,” Zhou said. “We drifted apart after becoming more established. We need to bring back a similar level of closeness with a structured meeting schedule and set a time to see each other when there are big initiatives.”
College juniors Nadiyah Browning and Kendra Williams will lead as co-chairs of UMOJA, the representative coalition group for student groups of the African diaspora. The Philadelphia natives have restructured the entire group, adding a general board in addition to the group's executive board.
Williams said one of the projects that UMOJA is currently planning is Black Philly Week — a series of events for Penn students to engage with the black community in West Philadelphia.
“Penn has definitely played a part in the gentrification of West Philadelphia,” said Williams. “We want to mend the relationship with black West Philadelphians as much as possible.”
Both co-chairs said their focuses are mainly based on the needs of the black Penn community.
“All of the social and political issues that we delve into are based on what the community needs and wants from us,” Williams said.
College junior Cinthia Ibarra will serve as chair of external affairs for the Latinx Coalition. Ibarra said a major priority for the LC is to increase the visibility of Latinx support groups.
“I can relate to this on a personal level because in my freshman year I wasn’t very involved in the Latinx community,” Ibarra said. “I think one of the main factors for that is where these cultural centers are located. We need to be more visible and accessible on campus."
The three main cultural centers — La Casa, Makuu, and the Pan-Asian American Community House — are currently housed in the basement of the ARCH building.
One of the LC's biggest priorities is working with the administration to increase the percentage of Latinx students for the Class of 2024. The LC is hoping to organize a "Latinx Recruitment Weekend" and create a direct link to the Penn admissions office for prospective students.
Ibarra also stressed that the main focus of the Latinx Coalition is “inclusivity."
“Since Latinx groups are so diverse, sometimes there may be divisions based on demographic and socioeconomic differences,” Ibarra said. “We want to increase unity this year.”
College junior Kamal Gill has been elected the new chair of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition.
Gill said APSC will continue to focus on supporting affirmative action in the Ivy League, and specifically working with Dean of Admissions Eric Furda.
He hopes to discuss gender roles in the Asian Pacific Islander community and plans to organize an event to discuss the effects of the viral Facebook groups "subtle asian traits" and "subtle asian dating."
“'Subtle Asian Dating' can actually perpetuate a lot of toxicity concerning heteronormativity and Asian American stereotypes,” Gill said.
Gill added that he hopes to ensure that all Asian Pacific ethnic groups are included in the conversation.
“While we celebrate films like 'Crazy Rich Asians,' we also need to include other Asian groups. If we are not including them we are not including the entire Asian American community,” Gill said.
College junior Wesley Neal will lead the Lambda Alliance — the coalition group for LGBTQ students — as chair.
Neal said he hopes to work with the University to have the Penn insurance plan cover LGBTQ healthcare, including medical procedures for transgender people. He added that Lambda is also working with administrators to diversify pronoun usage in Penn InTouch.
Neal said Lambda aims to increase the number of gender neutral bathrooms on campus — a project the University began in 2017.
"The current state is that students rely on maps from the LGBTQ Center for bathrooms on campus," Neal said. "We are currently in talks about buildings that do not have gender neutral bathrooms."
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