Working towards inclusion 

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SGA Representatives at the General Assembly meeting on Feb. 28. Photo by Photo Editor Kira Bretsky '27.

Matthew Klinger is also an SGA representative

This is Muhlenberg Student Government Association (SGA)’s third year having a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) committee. In past years, that committee has been focused primarily on hosting DEIB-focused events. Last year, the events hosted by the committee were popular and well-attended. In addition to hosting events, the committee was also responsible for providing DEIB training once a semester, as well as holding a diversity dinner to support various affinity groups on campus. 

This year’s DEIB Chair is Bethany Qian ‘25, and they came to SGA with fresh ideas on how to better serve the student body and improve SGA’s DEIB initiatives. Bethany explained, “The biggest change for the DEIB committee this semester is a shift away from holding events and instead focusing our attention on administrative and procedural duties.” Such duties include expanding DEIB training at General Assembly meetings, making them monthly rather than once a semester. They hope that by doing so, the committee will “be able to dive into specific DEIB-related topics and keep DEIB practices at the forefront of representatives’ minds. We don’t want DEIB training to be something that can be checked off of a semester’s list but rather keep it as an intentional conversation,” they said.

Because their mission is to serve the student body, it is of utmost importance that representatives do so with an awareness of their biases so that they can represent the study body to the best of their ability. To help prevent bias in voting, the DEIB committee discussed implicit bias at their last training on Feb. 21. Bethany explained the recent training, saying, “I led a discussion about implicit bias that the [DEIB] committee collectively planned out. We split the General Assembly into several small assigned groups to allow better conversation and I’m very proud of some of the ideas that were shared in the big group, as it inspired really insightful conversations amongst representatives. I wanted to emphasize the importance of keeping implicit biases in mind while voting, especially for club approvals and finance votes.” An additional part of the training included a case study, where representatives could see the effects of implicit bias playing out. Following the training, representatives of SGA were sent an anonymous feedback form in order to ensure that DEIB trainings are touching on topics representatives wanted to learn more about. 

SGA representatives enjoy the new diversity trainings. SGA Vice President Andrew Buckwalter ‘24 said, “I think they’re fantastic, especially breaking out into smaller groups where we can actually have a productive discussion where everyone can talk. I think the guiding questions so far have been fantastic in spurring on conversation.”

Recording Secretary Noah Berger ‘24 agreed with that sentiment, commenting “The new SGA DEIB trainings are an incredible step in the right direction to ensure that we as SGA are connecting with each other on important topics such as accessibility, implicit bias and so many more other things. Each of the topics we have discussed and will be discussing in the future will allow us to be a more cohesive SGA as we work to create real change on this campus.”

Jay Khoury ‘26 added that “The diverse identities of SGA representatives influenced the different perspectives on stereotypes and implicit biases…The case study was a great exercise employed in the training. More case studies should be used moving forward. There have been instances where SGA representatives have voted ‘yes’ because they were scared that constituents would assume they were bigoted, [and] it’s important that SGA representatives know that they should voice their opinions regardless of how they’ll be perceived.”

The DEIB committee still has a number of things planned for the remainder of the semester to continue their work of expanding DEIB awareness on campus. First, the committee will hold two additional DEIB trainings, one in March and the other in early April. The committee also wants to implement a student survey and feedback form to better understand students’ perceptions of DEIB work on campus and how SGA can support it. As of now, those details are still being finalized.

Additional reporting by Samantha Brooks ‘27

Matthew '24 is a philosophy and political thought major on the pre-law track.

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