Womxn of Color Make Hxstory in the 2018 Midterm Election

Luz Maria Borjon, Director of Civic Engagement and Internships California State University, Los Angeles

March 5, 2019

As the Director of Civic Engagement and Internships, I work collaboratively with several key partners at Cal State LA to fulfill the University’s Strategic Initiative of Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. Student government is a great partnership because it gives me the opportunity to work directly with student leaders. Associated Students Inc., ASI is the governing body that represents the voice of students at Cal State LA. In the 2017-18 school their Vice President for External Affairs and Advancement (VPEAA) created two new student leadership positions, one is a Civic Engagement Officer, and the other is the Diversity and Inclusion Officer. A Civic Engagement Committee was also created by the students, including several administrators from the offices of the Dean of Students, the Provost, the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs (PBI), and from the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. The purpose of this committee is for students and staff to collaborate on student initiatives around civic engagement.

In 2018 ASI student leaders kicked off National Voter Registration Day in September as excitement was building on campus for the November midterm election. Cal State LA is one of the most diverse universities in California and was recently recognized as number one in upward mobility in a study published in the NY Times. Students are very much connected to many of the issues facing our nation such gun violence at schools, affordable health care, #metoo, and immigration. After the elections, students were most excited to see the diverse representation of women of color elected to US Congress as well as locally and statewide.

Cal State LA is located about three miles from Downtown Los Angeles and boasts alumni who are among the most distinguished and long serving members of Congress. They also happen to be women, and women of color. One is the Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard  (D-CA ) representing the 40th Congressional District , and the other is Honorable Maxine Waters (D-CA) representing the 43rd Congressional District. ASI student leaders reached out to Representative Roybal-Allard. Her office confirmed that she would be able to attend a student forum scheduled for later this month.

Together with professional staff in ASI, the Dean of Students office, and PBI, the students are planning to host the Congresswoman. Our ASI President and VPEAA will have an intergenerational conversation with Rep. Roybal-Allard in a podcast format about what the glass ceiling was like for women over the last twenty years as compared with the impact that womxn of color in particular and women in general are having in politics now. They are planning for campus radio to live broadcast it as well. The excellent staff of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs who are experts at staging political debates and events such as this one, are coaching the students (and administrators) and preparing us for the “run of show”.

As we get ready for this exciting event for students and the campus community, it is a successful example of how we can both mentor our student’s leadership as well as empower them with the skills to uplift all of our communities.

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