The first meeting of the Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) was hosted on Tuesday by the Associated Students of Madison. The committee is dedicated to making space for students to advocate for social justice and inclusivity on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
The EIC is one of just five open ASM committees on campus, meaning that there is no application to join or participate in organizing events.
“It’s in the spirit of inclusion that there’s not a barrier for entry,” said Diverse Engagement Coordinator Ndemazea Fonkem. “This committee is its’ members.”
All students are welcome to attend meetings at any point in the semester to bring up issues they see around campus. The EIC is meant to give a platform and a place to get involved with grassroots organizing, with an emphasis on finding solutions for issues across campus. The committee serves first and foremost as an ideas exchange, according to committee leaders.
Attendees at the kickoff meeting were asked to share issues that were particularly important to them on campus. Topics raised include the desire for the creation of a disabled student center and a major streamlining of resources accessible to students in general. Without a straightforward way to access the resources the university supplies — whether it be financial aid resources or mental health resources — students at the meeting feel there’s no real way to utilize the variety of services provided by UW-Madison.
The creation of sub-groups focused on one specific area of interest for inclusivity and diversity at UW-Madison are a new addition to the EIC this session. These subcommittees range from engagement to transportation accessibility, and are broad enough that every suggestion raised at Tuesday’s meeting fell under at least one of the groups.
Looking ahead to the rest of the semester, Fonkem describes some of the “little projects” she’s working on, including bolstering the Housing and Dining initiative for more inclusive housing options as well as campaigning for more transportation accessibility options on Bascom Hill for disabled students. These initiatives are not something that are an individual feat, said Fonkem.
The bulk of the meeting was focused on each attendee finding their role in the Social Change Ecosystem, affectionately dubbed the “new Myers-Briggs” by committee members.
“Acknowledgement and recognition is how we know we exist,” Fonkem explained as members moved around the room, grouping up with others with similar roles as them. She emphasized that her goal for the semester is to have the committee be a place where members express their thoughts freely and come together around issues on campus to brainstorm solutions.
The EIC meets Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m. in the Caucus Room of the Student Activity Center.