What does it take to hold a diverse organization together?
Take a look at the MPIRG Board of Directors, and you'll see all manner of titles aside the names of its members. They denote special duties: some express the responsibility of bringing certain perspectives within MPIRG to the Board. These delegates ensure that all MPIRG students have their voices heard in our organization -- they bring MPIRG's chapters closer together. But if MPIRG aims to represent Minnesotans, especially students, who come from different communities, backgrounds, and political persuasions, where do they get their voice on the Board?
Look again, and you'll see Board Members with the title of “Special Delegate”, who are appointed to add diversity or important skills to the Board and make sure the voices of as many communities are heard on the Board as possible. As an SD, I see the role of the position going beyond being a “token”. Because MPIRG aims to speak for Minnesotans in all communities, it is necessary to have people in positions of influence who keep the organization thinking about how the policies we champion could impact other Minnesotans. Activism needs enthusiasm, and in our excitement we often can forget to ask community leaders, neighbors, and opponents how the policies we want will impact their lives. This is how we create allies, and leave the shelter of our campuses.
With a board diverse in color, background, and ideology, we can meet our neighbors on equal terms. Whether special delegates are people of color, LGBTQIA, working-class, conservatives, nontraditional students, or from out-of-state, I think our ultimate role is to keep MPIRG honest by ensuring its work is supported – and critiqued – through as many lenses as possible.
Special Delegate to the Board of Directors