4 resolutions regarding BLM flag presented to Student Senate

Four different resolutions were introduced to the Student Senate Wednesday regarding what members should recommend doing with the Black Live Matter Flag Initiative on behalf of the student body.

Morgan Colvin, a junior political science major, and Keshyra Bluminberg, a junior English secondary education major, started the initiative. 

Colvin and Bluminberg proposed that the Black Lives Matter Flag be raised underneath the American Flag in the South Quad during African-American Heritage Month. 

They presented this proposal to the student government on Oct. 31, and the primary purpose of the initiative, according to the resolutions, is to “demonstrate support to African-American students within the Eastern community who face every day struggles and to give students a sense of inclusion on Eastern’s campus.”

Alicia Matusiak, the vice president of student affairs, wrote the resolutions, which are not final drafts, based on feedback she received from “key leaders” on campus and feedback senators received from students.

She said she sent out emails to organizations such as the Black Student Union, the Latin American Student Organization, EIU Pride, the Residence Hall Association and members of the Greek community before Thanksgiving Break and on Monday asking them for their final thoughts on raising the flag. 

From that feedback, the four resolutions were drafted, and next week the student senate will vote to either endorse the initiative, not endorse it, elect to remain neutral on the matter or offer alternatives to that are more inclusive of Eastern’s diverse community and student body. 

Matusiak pulled quotes from the different feedback to support each resolution.

For example, for Senate Resolution 18-19-03, which elects to endorse the initiative, Matusiak said some of the people who support the flag said it is important that African-Americans have a voice on campus given current events.

“Many people feel it is unfair to focus on one group as all lives are important, but not all lives face the question that African-Americans deal with today,” Matusiak said, quoting from the feedback she received.

On the other hand, she said some of the quotes that were used to write Senate Resolution 18-19-04, which elects to not endorse the initiative, said the flag was not necessary, and a public university should not participate in something that is “political.”

Senate Resolution 18-19-06, which offers alternatives to raising the flag, was written based on quotes that said it is possible to show support for diversity and inclusion on campus without having to raise the flag.

Matusiak said Senate Resolution 18-19-05, which elects to abstain from making a recommendation, was created based on feedback that said the student government should remain neutral and not rush through the matter since it is very delicate, and another quote said people do not have enough information on the matter to make a decision.

The Student Senate will choose one resolution to send to the administration at its next meeting on Dec. 5.

Matusiak said the resolution is only a recommendation made on behalf of the student body, and the student government has no control over what the administration ultimately decides. 

“It’s not just your vote, it’s the vote of the student body,” Matusiak told senators regarding the vote they will make next week. “Do your due diligence for the student body.”

Matusiak said she will send the four resolutions in an email to these organizations. 

She said there is an informal meeting regarding the Black Lives Matter flag Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Effingham Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union and recommended that student senators attend if they still have questions regarding the flag and initiative. 

Student senators also nominated two candidates for speaker of the senate. 

Senators Tarvea Durant and Seth Yeakel were nominated, and they both agreed that the first thing they will do if elected as speaker is to encourage more people to join student government and boost enrollment in Student Senate.

Student senators will elect a speaker at the Dec. 5 meeting, which is also the final meeting of the semester. 

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or achaynes@eiu.edu.

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