Weber State University’s student senate discussed concerns of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population during its meeting held at the Davis campus this week. LGBT students have expressed an interest in representation in student senate as well as a desire for a place to congregate among their peers, similar to the Women’s Center and the Nontraditional Student Center.
Some members of the senate said they are still not sure what the LGBT population hopes to gain by having a constituency created.
“My question still has never really been answered directly and completely from that group,” said Kyle Braithwaite, WSUSA president. “What goal do they see in achieving through getting a center and a senator? Is there something that only that can provide that isn’t already provided, or are they just unhappy with the way it’s currently being handled?”
Braithwaite also said if there is something not currently being provided by another organization on campus, the senate should look into correcting it. He also said the senate can make the LGBT population aware of the services currently available to them.
“I really encourage everyone to be more involved in your constituencies and be constantly looking for opportunities to reach out to people,” Justin Neville, legislative vice president, said.
Senator Brady Harris said another option is to go through the safe-zone training that WSU currently offers in the hope that this group of students would be more comfortable discussing their issues with the senate.
“If a student came up to me and said ‘I’ve got this issue,’ no matter who they are or anything, I would fight tooth and nail for that,” he said.
Senator Michael Vasquez said the LGBT students have pushed for representation based on statistical information. Four to five percent of students identify as LGBT, with another four percent of students choosing not to answer the question. One percent of students identified as African American, 0.5 percent as Native American and three percent as Asian Pacific Islander. Three percent of students chose not to identify their ethnicity.
“There seems to be a demand for a senator for this constituency, if we can verify the data,” Vasquez said.”If there’s a senator for African American students and a senator for Native American students, and their population is much lower, why would there be such heavy opposition towards getting a senator if there’s such a high population of students that identify that way?”
Harris said they cannot currently track the LGBT population legally, as with other constituencies on campus. It also presents a challenge with students voting on candidates for the senate position. Students can only vote for candidates running for positions within their college or cultural constituency.
“That’s your biggest hurdle,” Neville said. “Once you find a way around that, I support it. I say go ahead and go for it.”