Penn’s minority coalition student groups, known as the 6B, have elected new leadership for 2020. The 6B consists of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, Lambda Alliance, Latinx Coalition, Penn Association for Gender Equity, the United Minorities Council, and UMOJA. The Daily Pennsylvanian interviewed the new chairs about their goals and plans for the coming year.
College junior Sarah Kim will take over as chair of external affairs for the Asian Pacific Student Coalition. Kim said her goals are to focus on community building while still maintaining a strong stance on political issues such as feminism and human rights.
“Since we represent the Asian Pacific Islander community, we feel that in order to take a stance on political issues, we have to have a community first,” Kim said.
Kim said she hopes to host events with other members of the 6B to talk about feminism and practice intersectionality, or how an individual’s overlapping identities affect their lived experiences.
College junior Bryce Nguyen is the newly elected chair for Lambda Alliance. He said he will work to create a stronger sense of community among LGBTQ students this year.
“A lot of the problem that Penn undergraduate queer students face is a lack of a cohesive community,” Nguyen said. “I want to focus on building a social community to go to and see and experience.”
Nguyen said in the past, the queer community has been fragmented and hopes to increase event programming so students can engage more within the queer community.
Nguyen added he will work to revitalize QPenn, a cultural week featuring LGBTQ-related events that will take place in late March. He said events will include a drag show, book speaker event, and Shabbat dinner.
Nguyen also echoed Kim's desire to focus on intersectionality this year by hosting more collaborative events with the other members of the 6B.
College junior Frances Paulino, who will serve as chair of the Latinx Coalition, said she hopes to increase the LC’s presence on campus and make sure that their voices are not misrepresented.
“A big thing about Latinx communities is a lot of people think just immigration issues are our main issues, and while it’s very central to who we are, it’s not the only thing that we’re focused on,” Paulino said.
Paulino added another goal of the LC is to get a permanent space on campus for La Casa Latina, with each cultural house, including Pan Asian American Community House and Makuu, having their own building on campus.
“My goals for that are making sure we’re on a road to achieve that final want and also making sure we still have some kind of collaborative space between the three houses, because that’s something we really value,” Paulino said.
College junior Angela Yang has been elected the new chair of the Penn Association for Gender Equity.
Yang said her two goals for the coming year include getting a new space for cultural centers on campus and expanding PAGE’s "community outreach position," an initiative launched last spring that connects PAGE with the Philadelphia community.
Yang said that although Penn offered PAACH, La Casa Latina, and Makuu to move out of the basement of ARCH, 6B's long-term goal is to have the cultural centers on Locust Walk.
To expand PAGE's reach beyond Penn, Yang said she is considering creating a mentorship program with a Philadelphia middle school or high school.
Yang added that PAGE also hopes to increase sexual assault awareness on campus by implementing mandatory sexual assault programming for first-year students and diversity and sexual harassment training for staff.
College junior Brooke Price will serve as chair of external affairs for the United Minorities Council. Price said her goals also include increasing space for minorities on campus and increasing faculty diversity.
“We understand [increasing faculty diversity] is kind of a difficult thing to be like ‘hire new employees,’ especially when spots aren’t open, so we’re also looking at training existing faculty on diversity and inclusion," Price said.
Similar to the other incoming chairs, Price said she hopes that within the next ten years, the 6B will have free-standing buildings on Locust Walk, either with different houses or floors for each affinity group.
Price added she plans to host more social events and build a supportive atmosphere for minority students. Price said UMC's annual Celebration of Cultures event will take place throughout April to celebrate minority cultures at Penn. In the past, Price said the event has featured open mic nights where people could share aspects of their identity and culture, guest speaker events, and tables on Locust Walk.
College juniors Martha Gakunju and Derek Nuamah will serve as co-chairs of UMOJA, the representative voice of black students and black student organizations.
With the 2020 presidential election approaching, Nuamah said UMOJA will prioritize the safety of black students on campus and maintain open lines of communication with administration. Nuamah cited an incident in the 2016 election season in which a group of black students at Penn was targeted with threatening, racist messages.
Black students at Penn were sent racist group messages including “daily lynching" and "dumb slave" in November 2016. The University announced in an email to undergraduates that a student at the University of Oklahoma was suspended in connection with the messages.
“One of our biggest goals is making sure all black students on this campus feel safe and supported,” Nuamah said.
Nuamah also described Makuu's current location in ARCH as “completely inadequate” to serve the community and said UMOJA is currently talking with the administration about renovations in ARCH and potentially moving the cultural centers to different floors of the building.
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