The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with the new leaders of Penn’s minority coalition — also known as the 7B — about their goals and plans for the upcoming year.
The 7B groups consist of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, Lambda Alliance, Latinx Coalition, Natives at Penn, Penn Association for Gender Equity, United Minorities Council, and UMOJA. These groups below completed their respective election processes last winter and have new leaders starting this semester.
Asian Pacific Student Coalition
The new chair of APSC board, College junior Ashley Uppani, previously served as external chair from 2022-23. Uppani said she views APSC as a path to further connecting with her identity as an Asian American.
“I really liked my time as vice chair,” Uppani said, “[As a junior] this [was] my last opportunity to really have an impact, and [chair] most closely aligned with what I wanted to do."
As chair, Uppani plans to continue the conversation in advocating for expanded space for the 7B groups — which is currently located in the ARCH — in addition to increasing funding for APSC. Additionally, she hopes that APSC can grow to include less represented Asian denominations and partner with local nonprofits.
Uppani said that APSC wants to prioritzie "contacting specific groups within our communities that aren’t necessarily more high need, but would benefit more from our assistance in terms of not having as much backing.”
Currently, she is one of the student leaders managing the leadership transition of the Pan-Asian American Community House. PAACH — which is preparing to celebrate its 25th year — is looking to hire a new director after the sudden departure of Peter Van Do last September, while two new associate directors were hired in January.
Wharton junior Daniel Trebejo-Ariza and College junior Andrew Choe will lead the upcoming year’s board for Lambda as co-chairs. Both previously served as chairs for Lambda committees before transitioning to co-chairs this year.
Trebejo-Ariza and Choe’s focus will be on increasing visibility for Lambda and 7B through more funding and advertising, in addition to facilitating more social programs within the organization. In particular, they plan to revive a mentorship program and host a new queer-centric event during New Student Orientation. They also aim to continue Lambda’s role in supporting other 7B groups.
While the remaining 7B groups continue to engage in social issues, the co-chairs said that Lambda tries to attempt a united front.
“Lambda is unique in that we don’t have much say in political issues,” Trebejo-Ariza said.
Their current projects include advocating for more gender neutral bathrooms, and an upcoming event — QPenn — which is a week-long celebration of the queer community at Penn. QPenn was one of Trebejo-Ariza’s first initiatives in his previous role as finance committee chair.
“Students should never be afraid to get help from the many safe spaces on campus, including Lambda,” Trebejo-Ariza said.
College sophomore Elizabeth Ramos and Wharton sophomore Stefany Santos will lead the new board as co-chairs of Latinx Coalition. Ramos says their goals are to increase the accessibility of the group to reach and include more students.
“I found difficulty discovering a community in my first year before someone in Latinx Coalition extended a hand and nominated me for leadership,” Ramos said.
Her vision for the Latinx Coalition's future is to create a Penn where everyone is elevated and visible. She wants to provide students with the resources to succeed at Penn and beyond.
“I really want to grow our community, giving them safe spaces to not just socialize, but grow academically, professionally,” Ramos said.
She specifically hopes to grow the organization in size, and advocating for more funding is a key component of this year’s goals. Additionally, she said that she wants to help facilitate successful board turnovers in the club, while overall making the club itself more accessible to the Penn community.
“Every once in a while you get somebody new who's coming in and you're like, oh, my gosh, where have you been?” Ramos said. "So we definitely want to reach out to more members in our community.”
Natives at Penn
Unlike the other groups, NAP — the newest addition to the 7B — elects their leadership at the beginning of every academic year, so there was no board turnover at the start of the semester. The current leadership is College senior Nyair Locklear.
Locklear said she was personally empowered by NAP and then decided to enter a leadership role.
Since her election last fall, Locklear has been working on the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the official academic calendar.
NAP gained new space in ARCH during the second phase of its renovations.
According to a DP interview last semester, her aim for the future is to increase admission of Indigenous students and recruitment of Indigenous faculty to Penn as well as to improve the retention of those members.
Penn Association for Gender Equality
College junior Gad Raganas, who previously served as PAGE’s political chair, is the new chair of the group. Raganas initially joined PAGE as a transfer student from Rutgers.
The lack of upperclassmen in PAGE’s current leadership prompted Raganas to run for chair.
“It's quite difficult to handle the loss of institutional knowledge and loss of experience from older board members,” Raganas said.
His vision for the club begins with reexamining the legacy of PAGE’s history. According to Raganas, in the club’s history, it failed to be inclusive of all genders and hosted an event promoting racist idealogies.
“The history is not as solvent anymore, but it's still important to walk back,” Raganas said.
Raganas’s specific goals include improving the diversity of the board and involving the organization in more activism.
“What I'm mostly interested in is building a leadership pipeline to essentially help students who want to get involved in activism and student organizing on campus,” Raganas said.
The organization also hosts a pre-orientation program, and Raganas would like to improve on continuing that program into the school year.
“I would really like to see PAGE as a more active body, hosting more events, collaborating more and putting out more marketing material,” Raganas said.
Raganas shared the same sentiment as the other 7B group leaders in wanting to find PAGE a better location amongst the ongoing conversations surrounding the ARCH.
United Minorities Council
UMCs new chair is College junior Oumy Diasse, who has been a part of the organization since her sophomore year. Diasse was passionate about advocacy throughout high school and was introduced to UMC through a work-study position at the Greenfield Intercultural Center.
Diasse served as the club’s programming chair last year, and that experience initially sparked her interest in running for chair.
“I realized there's a disconnect within the Penn community, and racial enclaves,” Diasse said. “When we're hosting events and stuff like that, we were struggling to have the intercultural or united aspect of the United Minorities Council.”
Diasse hopes to create a safe space not only within UMC, but for all of 7B in regarding to having a social atmosphere. She said she wants to reintroduce intercultural events, including heritage festivals, and bringing intercultural food to campus. Diasse also hopes to host an intercultural gala with the 7B groups.
Diasse added that UMC is looking to listen to the needs of their constituents and advocate on their behalf.
The new co-chairs, College juniors Taussia Boadi and Tarah Paul, are looking to continue to expand the reach and impact of UMOJA.
“My biggest motivation is bringing about positive change for the Black community and enhancing the experience for us,” Boadi said.
Specifically, they said that listening to their constituency continues to be a large priority of the group.
“We want to take what our constituents are saying and make sure that we can provide tangible solutions for them and create a better environment within Black Penn so that everyone can feel like their needs are met, and that everyone can feel that their voices are being heard,” Boadi said.
The leaders want to emphasize "think tanks" where people can come together to discuss issues occurring within the Black community and come up with proposals and an agenda. Paul also mentioned holding open forums once a month to allow constituents to air grievances.
Boadi aims to reclaim and introduce new spaces for Black students, some of which were lost during online semesters in recent years. UMOJA will continue the fight for space on campus.
“We want to make sure that we're doing enough and as much as we can to build a home inside of a home for people,” Boadi said.
Paul added that the group looks to further involvement in Quaker Days, specifically the multicultural days that occur prior to the event.
“When I was applying to Penn, the Black community was what drew me here as opposed to other schools I was looking at,” Paul said. “For Black students, I think it's a great opportunity for them to get involved in Black Penn and see how vibrant and active our community is.”