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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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University diversity officer sets advisory council in motion

Rashanda+Booker.
David Victor/The Collegian
Rashanda Booker.

The inaugural university diversity officer, Rashanda Booker, has been in office since Jan. 3 and is eager to launch a new advisory council.

Since Booker interviewed for the job last fall, she said she has dreamed of starting a group where students would be able to share their input, be heard and be the first phase in creating change on campus.

“Part of my vision coming into an inaugural role was to make sure that I always have all constituent voices, including, faculty, staff, students, employees and community members, but specifically students,” Booker said.

To turn this vision into a reality, Booker said she needed to think about what students need by listening to them instead of assuming what’s best.

Working very closely with ASI, Booker created the Student Equity Advisory Council.

The council is a space for a minimum of 16 students to meet once a month with Booker for an entire academic year.

It is designed for students to have a safe place to share concerns, recommend initiatives and be able to help her better understand student needs.

“With SEAC, I think it will provide a safe space for our students from different backgrounds to come together and address important issues related to their identity groups,” said Karen Carrillo, ASI president.

ASI Executive Vice President Rebecca Perez worked with Booker over the summer to help SEAC come together.

“I was the ASI representative and was the one in the meetings to help make SEAC come to life,” Perez said.

Booker plans to be a resource to students by listening to what they have to say, taking it to the president’s cabinet and creating a course of action.

She said she knows some things will be easily changed while others will not. No matter the case, Booker wants to be able to provide students with answers.

“My main goal is to continually have the student voice [involved], to let students know that their voice matters and that they have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns,” she said.

Carrillo said she believes SEAC will nurture a stronger relationship between ASI and the Division of Equity and Engagement.

“I believe a benefit that will come from having SEAC is that it will bridge an easier conversation with our university diversity officer in order for her to have a better understanding of the adversities our students may face on our campus,” Carrillo said.

The first group of students for SEAC will be selected later this semester, according to Booker. She hopes to have a trial of the council in Spring 2024 and will launch the first official council for the 2024-25 academic year.

The council application will be launched through Fresno State News soon.

“I am creating with ASI a group of people that’ll go over the applications, so I’m hoping that we get a good, rich, diverse pool,” Booker told The Collegian.

For the demographic of the council, Booker wants a diverse group of students who are not only dedicated and committed, but who have the time to be present.

“We will have to make sure that it’s a diverse group of students. With ASI we will have a group go over to figure out who those individuals are that are truly championing in this work,” she said.

Perez helped secure a foundation for SEAC and is excited to see it get started.

“I hope to see this committee flourish. It’s a wonderful idea and opportunity for our students and I’m happy that we were able to build this relationship,” Perez said.

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