The AS Review: What motivates you to seek this position?
Well, mostly over my time here at Western, this year and last year so far, I’ve heard people talk about what they want to see their VP for Diversity do and I’ve heard their complaints about what the current VP for Diversity is not doing –and Kayla [Britt]’s done a lot with this position and she’s kind of inspired me a little bit for the VP for Diversity position, but I feel as though I could be the person that takes [it] to the next level and I can actually listen to the people’s voices on campus who actually make up our community and then give them what they want to see diversity incorporate and put it in the AS and work to spread it to the rest of the community and Bellingham as a whole. And generally diversity is just something I’ve always been passionate about. I came from a high school where 80 percent of the student body were students of color, 60 percent of the students were on free/reduced lunch. There was a 10 percent dropout rate at my high school, which is one of the worst in Washington State. And it’s coming from that high school to Western, I can see the differences and the disparities between the diversities here and the diversities there. And I see a lot of room for improvement and a lot of room for growth and I feel as though I’m the best person to help be the catalyst for that growth. And that’s kind of what inspired me to seek this position.
ASR: What groups of students might be easily overlooked by the AS board and what will you do to ensure you represent them in your work?
Wray: Well I’ve always came upon this saying that diversity incorporates more than just race and ethnicity, and more than just queer and straight and more than just women and whatnot. I believe diversity isn’t so much a set of numbers and percentages as to the student body. I think it also represents a diverse state of mind as well as experiences and feelings. So I think a group of students that are too often overlooked would be the Fairhaven students because they are definitely a major part of this because they are challenging the system and going for an alternative form of education. The people who work in the Outback; the people who offer sustainable resources and food and the people who shop at the Co-Op. I think these people are often times overlooked and kind of set aside and some of them are addressed as kids who don’t really go to a real school. And I would definitely work to incorporate their works more into diversity too, because they make up Westerners too.
ASR: Since you came to Western what has been the most important issue facing students that went unaddressed or was dealt with poorly and what issue would you say has been addressed most positively?
Wray: I think the issue that hasn’t been addressed as effectively as I would have liked to have seen is the incorporation of student voices on campus. Often times I’ve felt as though AS officers get into their positions and they just completely do what they feel is best for the campus instead of consulting everybody as a whole and actually taking their opinions and thoughts and taking them into consideration seriously. And I felt that that could have been handled better. And I feel that I can handle that better. You know, I’ve been saying this whole campaign that I would hold monthly community forums where I would come out personally and make myself available to the community to be able to listen to see what they would want, what we as students would want. I notice a lot of people in their campaigns keep referring to “the students, the students,” and I’m like, “we’re students too.”
And I think an issue that was addressed relatively well was Kayla’s structuring of the ESC and how before she was in office it was relatively, I don’t want to say unstructured because it did have a structure to it, but she re-cemented its place as a valid institution and establishment on campus where it can physically remain an institution for many years to come. And so Kayla did a really good job with that.
ASR: What are your three biggest goals for next year?
Wray: I definitely want people to have a greater sense for what the VP for Diversity does. Too often, I’ve been campaigning and people are like, “What does the VP for Diversity do?” So I want to make sure that people understand what it is I’m doing and what I’m responsible for. Another thing I also want to do, I guess is, make sure that people’s voices are getting heard. Because I don’t want to go in and be a vigilante and do what I think is best for the community, especially in these hard times when everybody is being affected by the 14 percent tuition raise and the increase in fees. I definitely don’t want to be the person that makes all of the decisions. I want to know what my peers, my classmates think and what they want me to do. And I actually want to work with Ethnic Student Center Director Michael Vendiola to create or lay the groundwork for some sort of mentorship program to help incoming students or event returning students to just help them transition better to the university lifestyle and make sure they’re succeeding on campus and making sure that they’re part of the Western community. To make sure that they want to stay so we can keep those retention numbers up.
ASR: When a student comes to you with a question that is beyond the scope of your job, how will you respond to this student?
Wray: I would come up with conversation. If it was beyond the scope of my job, it’s still my duty as a member of the AS board of directors to talk to the student and make sure they’re being appreciated and acknowledging what they have to say. I might not be able to do what they want in my specific job, but I can talk to other AS Board directors and get that person’s contact number and meet with that person and the actual AS officer who can handle that question, have a conversation with them. Because though, it may be out of my job description, it’s still my responsibility to ensure that students are being helped out.