ASR: What experience do you have that makes you qualified for this position?
Britt: First I would say that I am the current vice president for Diversity, so I am running for reelection. I feel like I have a lot of experience under my belt being VP for Diversity this year and I have done a lot of things different that past VPs for Diversity have not done. It has given me a good working knowledge of the AS. My approach to the position has been that it is very important to raise awareness about different issues but I think that sometimes we talk about the same things over and over again and no one really does anything about it.
One thing I did was I started working with the [Ethnic Student Center] ESC and started updating the organizational system because it had not been updated in seven years. It is really expanding and it wasn't able to adapt to the growth of students. I helped teach the students that they can make the changes themselves and teaching them how to evolve them over the years so that they will stay current.
I also worked a lot with disability awareness this year, I worked with the Students for Disability Awareness and I've been working with the Equal Opportunity Office to address building accommodations on campus. That is something I would really like to continue working on next year. I consider myself a product of the ESC, but I also know that ethnic minorities aren't the only diverse group on this campus. I hope that my previous work with the ESC will allow for future VPs for Diversity to continue to work with the ESC but also work with other realms on campus.
ASR: What are three biggest goals for next year?
Britt: I still want to continue working with the ESC because I think it's a long term learning process to adapt to a lot of changes and to make it part of the culture that things can change every year if they aren't working for you.
I started working on a project with the current AS president on faculty sensitivity, trying to do preventative methods so that there won't be so many complaints. There are complaints that come in, but there's a legal line between what's discriminatory and what's insensitive. I want to make faculty sensitivity a norm on this campus and institutionalize it.
I'd also like to work with the Resource and Outreach Programs and try and make a stronger relationship between them and Residence Life so freshmen will be able to be exposed to those resources a lot earlier.
ASR: What is a decision made by the board that you support or disagree with?
Britt: I think that being on the board this year it has really important for us to stand by each other and come at things as a whole. There have been times that at board meeting where we don't all agree with things and I think that's good. There is a good ratio representation of people who agree to people who disagree and people who don't have an opinion about something. In the end, we try to think about what would help the majority of the student body. I haven't agreed with every decision, there have been ones I've voted against or abstained from, but I think it's important to stand behind the board as a whole because we really do have students in mind in all the decisions that we make.
ABN: What platform will you be running on?
Britt: As far as the disability accommodations, all the buildings have been looked at and all the things that need to be fixed have been identified but we don't enough funding on our campus to address these and actually change them. I hope to work with whoever the VP for Government and Legislative Affairs is next year and really prioritize that and work to get funding so that our campus can be accommodating for everyone.
ASR: What past or present politician do you really identify with?
Britt: I first want to state that I love Barack Obama, but I really think that personally I have felt a lot of similarities between Hillary Clinton. Being in this position has been very difficult being a woman. A lot of the people I work with are my friends, there has to be a line between my personal time with and my professional time with them. I think that it is really hard to define that. I think there are gender issues in leadership and as whole I think people naturally think male and leader. So I think it's difficult to be in a leader position, especially working with your friends, to make a very definite line between personal and professional.
ASR: What experience do you have that will make you a good candidate for the position you're running for?
Tran: Before coming to Western I worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer and was placed at a domestic violence place in Seattle. Through that experience I got a lot practice working with very diverse communities and trying to find unique solutions for each person.
I don't believe there is one fix-all to a problem, often times time you need to figure out what people are doing specifically to help them make the changes they need. I think that translates over into the position of [vice president] VP for diversity. I believe that there are many diverse groups on campus and right now there are some great resources and individuals that are there to help, but there are also some changes that need to be made. Part of the policies and education systems that we have here are not helping to the extent that they could be.
Also, working in AmeriCorps I did direct service so I have a lot of experience working one-on-one with people, as well doing community outreach. Public speaking is part of my background.
I am also one of the coordinators of the Social Issues Resource Center within the Resource and Outreach Programs here at Western. Through that I've programmed a lot of events around social issues this year, such as The Naked Truth on Stereotypes, the Jena 6 Conference and No Human Being is Illegal. For me, it's really powerful when students come with their own ideas and their own passions of what is really important and be able to help them put that into action.
ASR: What are your three biggest goals for next year?
Tran: One of my biggest goals is to better the communication between the student body and the administration. One of the ways I see of doing that is revamping the current Diversity Task Force to a committee of students, faculty and administrators who will discuss issues around diversity on this campus and where we need to make changes. It would look at Western's diversity objectives and trying to strengthen them as well as acting as an advisory session for students who have run into problems surrounding diversity. It would be a clear channel for students to receive help and be able to solve problem without getting lost in the process.
I also really want to increase the training around diversity that Residence Life staff goes through and make sure to implement programming policies that really emphasize that each person living in the dorms is a valuable part of the community. Dorms are homes, and there needs to be an awareness of where people are coming from so we don't have intolerance.
Another one I want to work on is building greater community between Ethnic Student Center clubs and between clubs in general. A lot of times different groups have personal goals but a lot of the time there are other groups that they can ally and talk with, and together they have a more visibility and support. That is the kind of environment I really want to foster next year.
ASR: What is one or two of the decisions that the board has made that you either agree or disagree with?
Tran: Something that I have observed with the board this year is that I think there needs to be more transparency and communication between the board and other organizations on this campus, as well as the student body in general. I feel that without that open communication, a lot of things can be misinterpreted in that the intention of certain programming this year has not been clear to board members because there was not direct communication between that group and board members, it was more roundabout communication. That is something that I would really want to change. I also think that the board has tried to make sure that programming on this campus does have an academic component but it is also tied to representing diversity. That is something I respect a lot.
ASR: What platform will you be running on?
Tran: A lot of my agenda is that I am not coming in with tons of specific ideas because the students are the ones whose ideas I should be representing, not my personal agenda. However, a goal of mine is increasing awareness and support for all marginalized groups on campus.
Diversity to me is just differences of all kind, it's a very complex topic but diversity does not just mean ethnic diversity, or sexual diversity or gender diversity, it is all those things together along with abled bodiedness, political views. I feel that we need to start dialogue and start in set in our policy that diversity is tied to all those issues. I believe that students of color need a lot of support on this campus, but they are not the only group.
I hope next year to bring light to all the different groups and give them a platform on which to speak, give them the resources they need to reach their goals and also be able to feel connected to one another.
ASR: Who is a past or present politician that you identify with?
Tran: Nelson Mandela because he was a very influential leader and politician to me. I admire him a lot because of his commitment to his dream of creating an equal society but also realizing that his dream was a part of the collective, he was there to represent his people. He didn't always need to be at the forefront but he was there to support, he was a pillar and that is something I try to bring into all of my work.