Leaders of the 6B — Penn's main minority coalition groups — are continuing to engage with their student communities and the Penn administration, despite in-person spring semester cancellations and other limitations posed by the coronavirus.
Even though many in-person initiatives and group meetings had to be postponed, the 6B leaders said they were able to accomplish many of their goals for the semester prior to students’ departure from campus. Now, they are collectively focused on providing social support for their communities from afar.
Rising College senior Frances Paulino, who is chair of the Latinx Coalition, said she was grateful the organization was able to hold Festival Latinx in February. Festival Latinx is a week-long celebration of what it means to be Latinx at Penn and in the world. The event featured poet Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro and held various workshops on Latin American feminism and media representation.
While the Latinx Coalition was able to successfully hold Festival Latinx, coronavirus limitations delayed progress on the group's plan to outline new ways for the Penn administration to support Latinx students 20 years into the University's future.
Rising College senior Angela Yang, who is chair of Penn Association for Gender Equity, said the group spent the beginning of this semester working on new sexual harassment trainings for professors, which are postponed until in-person meetings can resume.
PAGE was also working on creating a first-year pre-orientation program centered on gender equity. The fate of the program, however, is now uncertain as Penn has not yet finalized its plan for on-campus operations during the upcoming semester. Yang said she is optimistic the program — a two-night retreat prior to the start of fall classes — will still be able to run in fall 2021.
Rising College senior and Lambda Alliance chair Bryce Nguyen said much of the group's work went toward programming QPenn, the University's annual week-long celebration of LGBTQ culture. The event ended up being canceled since students were sent home before it was scheduled to take place at the end of March.
The leaders said their current priority is ensuring the well-being of community members since most students are currently living away from campus.
“The Lambda Alliance hasn’t been holding online programming because, in some of our members’ home situations, students aren’t safe being out with their parents or guardians,” Nguyen said. “It was especially frustrating because some of these students applied to stay on campus for this reason, and many of their applications were denied.”
For the Latinx Coalition, Paulino said the group focused its attention on its first-generation, low-income members once students were sent off campus.
“We felt that FGLI students [were] disproportionately affected by the transition to having classes online," Paulino said. "A lot of our efforts were aimed at measures of support for them, speaking to administrators, groups like Penn First, and our advisors at La Casa Latina about different initiatives in place to support these students."
Paulino said the 6B leaders are still in contact with each other in anticipation of the University's decision regarding future operations.
“Something that was really important to me this past semester was strengthening 6B relations, which I think went really well," Paulino said. "It was really great to get to know the other leaders, on a professional and personal level, and just being able to stand together in our conversations with the administration."
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