Jay Little, a senior majoring computer science, had reached out to the UA Student Government Association (SGA) before beginning his freshman year in hope of getting involved. Now after three years of involvement at the Capstone, his current title of vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is about to come to a close.
“SGA has opened so many doors for me as a freshman, and being involved and being someone who felt represented, I felt like it was kind of my service and duty to continue making opportunities for people like myself,” Little said. “Overall, having this role is one more important pillar that we have to recognize.”
The new position was appointed to Little by the executive council in November 2018, and it will be voted on by the student body for the first time since becoming an executive position in this semester’s upcoming elections.
Little served on First Year Council as a freshman; was the assistant vice president for Student Affairs, where he worked on tangible student issues; has held other Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion roles on campus and moved on to his own cabinet this academic year.
Isaac Lurie, a junior majoring in electrical engineering, said the new SGA vice presidency position is a positive step toward making students feel comfortable.
“It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable on and around our campus, and the creation of this position is a step towards realizing that,” Lurie said.
Briana Hatten, a senior majoring in advertising, said she was surprised that a vice president position for diversity, equity, and inclusion didn’t already exist at the executive level.
“I’m surprised we didn’t have this position before now,” Hatten said. “I think that this will be a great addition to the Student Government Association and the University as a whole. Diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of conversation, and it is amazing that there will be a voice for it here at the Capstone.”
Establishing the position was initially one of SGA President Price McGiffert’s campaign points. Executive council positions also must align with the administration of the University. For the past couple years, the multicultural affairs position served similarly to a diversity, equity and inclusion position. Now, the campus can fully embrace the creation of the position and have the opportunity to vote on it.
“Of course, myself being the minority student and someone who was involved with SGA, I fully endorsed the position,” Little said. “It was necessary and needed to happen. Diversity is a big enough initiative, and it shouldn’t just be a director’s role. Having a VP role comes with so much more benefits and structure. There’s a budget now for [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] in the student government.”
Little said he has worked toward various diversity initiatives during his time in office, such as working with the University to create more diverse scholarships. He notices the greater need of support for low-income students and hopes the next administration will keep up with these efforts.
Students will be able to vote for the new vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position, among many others, on Thursday, March 7 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on myBama.