The Student Assembly for Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion (SAREC) is a registered student organization (RSO) that was developed to address student concerns through the Inclusion and Diversity Committee (IDC) in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). SAREC currently addresses racial inequity, encourages anti-racism initiatives and training, and fosters a community of culturally competent students, faculty, and staff at Western Michigan University in (CEHD). We hope to expand this initiative to all departments at the university. SAREC is committed to endorsing its three pillars of radical change that focus on racial diversity/cultural inclusion, cultural competency, and anti-racism.
Our racial diversity/cultural inclusion initiative is the foundation of our organization. Very simply, inclusive practice and policy promote cultural competency and anti-racism advocacy. People of color who navigate predominantly white spaces are often marginalized and tokenized. People of color are not a monolith. Therefore, systems and institutions must redefine racial diversity and cultural inclusion. For many institutions, racial diversity and cultural inclusion are buzz words that accompany policy change and practice through the lens of dominant culture. This behavior, usually unintentional, not only harms people of color, but seeks to maintain the status quo, keeping white people unchallenged and unaccountable.
Our cultural competency efforts stem from a long line of predecessors who have been committed to training professionals regarding race and ethnicity. As we continue to evolve, people of color are demanding to be a part of the conversation; earning a seat at the table. This kind of visibility cannot be ignored, therefore it is incumbent upon all professionals to get on board with this movement to cultivate the needs of people of color in the space. This cultivation can only happen when those in power are held to higher standards of cultural competency. Learning about people of color is not enough. Educating self about people of color and critically interrogating the standards and systems within your profession is the radical shift that SAREC is committed to facilitating.
Our anti-racism initiative is designed to hold people accountable in academic, social, and personal spaces. This means we need to be intentional about having conversations that address white supremacy and its placement in higher education. As an organization, we are committed to helping those who have power in the academy, learn how to use their white privilege to empower people of color. In predominantly white institutions, people of color are perpetually unheard, unseen, and disempowered. Minority stress, stereotype threat, and microaggrssions serve to disenfranchise people of color, thereby thwarting academic success and resulting in poor mental health, low academic achievement, and higher drop-out rates. SAREC is committed to teaching anti-racism as a pedagogy, framework, and identity. They serve as ways in which academicians can dismantle institutionalized racism and white supremacy in higher education.
Dawnielle D. Simmons
Founder & President, Student Assembly for Racial Equity & Cultural Inclusion (SAREC)
Registered Student Organization
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008