Senate OKs director for a student group

Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
University of Florida students deserve an Asian-Pacific American affairs director, the Student Senate voted Tuesday.
A university-salaried director would ensure that Asian-American unity and leadership would not die every time student leaders graduated, said Sandy Chiu, president of the Asian American Student Union.
That unity and leadership is necessary, as Asian Americans are frequently overlooked in class curriculums and excluded from the special considerations offered to other ethnic groups on campus, she said.
"Asian Americans are not considered minorities at the University of Florida or the whole state of Florida," Chiu said.
No senators voted against the resolution, but some mentioned possible objections to the creation of the position.
UF may be afraid of creating a dangerous precedent where all ethnic groups deserve a director, culminating in a "WASP student dean," said Sen. Devin Renner, who sponsored the resolution.
Sen. Trung Tran said UF already provides many resources to the white student majority by default, so there's no need to extend special protections to groups that already enjoy complete benefits.
Sen. Jeremiah Blanchard said he supported the resolution based on his experience living in Japan for several years.
"You just cannot understand what it's like to be a minority until you are one," he said.
Tamara Cohen, director of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, did not promise any specific action by the UF administration but said the Dean of Students Office encouraged the Senate to express student needs.
"If the students want to make this positive statement of support, that's a good thing," Cohen said.
Cohen is the former UF director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, a position that was an earlier point of contention in the Senate meeting.
Christine Miller, a residence adviser who spoke during public debate as a UF student, asked the Senate to request the UF board of trustees to not allow taxpayers' money to fund the LGBT Affairs position.
She said she fully supported the work of Gator Gay-Straight Alliance and the Pride Student Union, which are not paid for from state taxes.
Sen. Zachary Clark, who is the head facilitator of Pride Student Union, said it was important to have the position because some LGBT freshmen find great comfort in having an adult that they can speak with.

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