Reed A. Kingsmen
So this semester has been jam packed with different events for me but the one I chose for the “Improve your Community” option was working on the D.U.C.C board here at the university. The acronym stands for “Diversity and Unity Coordinating Committee” basically we are a group of six students from completely different backgrounds that work together to make the UMW community better. This isn’t a new concept in fact every year the school elects someone who represents an extreme interest in social issues and works actively to improve the school. In my opinion until this year the position was more symbolic more rather than practical. The school wanted one student to somehow solve all the problems within the student body on their own and to my knowledge this strategy has never actually worked out. This year we (by that I mean the students) decided a group of us were all going to run for this position and whomever got chosen would get to be the Chair while the rest of us would serve as members of the board.
This call for action came from how horrendous last year was for everyone on campus. The main issue that came up in all of our conversations was the fact that we as students had no way to directly talk to the Board of Visitors, which is where all the major decisions were made. The student body basically had to tear the school apart just to have the BOV hear them out, which shows a big issue with power distribution. We also wanted to address many issues that occurred last year that were never resolved that still left the school divided.
So what we actually do! The D.U.C.C tries to attend or remain in contact with all the student led social issues groups on campus, that way we get a holistic look at how the community is doing when issues arise. When we do find an issue or something that could be improved on we hold a meeting and talk about the best way to go about it. Every single member of the Board is president or on the executive board of at least two other organizations here at UMW; so sometimes we decide that the best way is on a grassroots level and only involving the student body. Other times when an issue is too big for individual organizations we pool all our resources together and work under the banner of D.U.C.C, which allows us to organize bigger events within shorter timespans or have greater clout to get the administration to notice and force them to make statements on these issues. And if after long deliberation we see that an issue can only be resolved institutionally we bring it directly to the B.O.V during their meetings.
We’ve collaborated with at least ten different organizations and attended countless meetings with the school just to make sure the lines of communication are kept clear and efficient, and this is just the first semester. Next semester we hope to expand into the greater Fredericksburg area dealing with issues like Islamophobia, Queer outreach programs, supporting local restaurants from different cultures.