By Jackson McNeece | Contributor
From an outsider’s perspective, the office of the Student Body External Vice President (EVP) is certainly the most confusing of the three Student Body Officer positions and can often feel the most fluid. It can feel as though the position is rather inconsequential to the organization of Student Government; however, nothing can be further from the truth. It is the nature of the role, under the Student Body Constitution, that one of the EVP’s tasks is to act as the liaison between Student Government and the Waco community. Thus, it is naturally the most outward-facing position.
The relationships forged with the city of Waco are of utmost importance, and with the increasing growth of diversity among Waco residents, the task of the EVP will be to navigate the ways of how a predominantly white student body can interact with communities of racial and ethnic minorities. This task is important, and choosing the best candidate for the position will be paramount to the student body.
As we find ourselves coming to the end of Student Government campaigning, and most importantly, a runoff for the EVP position, I find myself increasingly troubled by the campaign of one of the candidates.
As aforementioned, the role of the EVP will be to communicate with the increasingly diverse city of Waco. Yet, of all the 16 endorsements posted by the Walker campaign, each is a White student affiliated with Interfraternity Council (IFC) or Panhellenic Council (PHC) organizations. There is no demonstrated attempt from the Walker campaign to even remotely present itself as inclusive of the Baylor student body. It seems as though his slogan “Unity Through Community” only applies to people of the same identity.
The most pressing concern this creates is the impending lack of inclusion in the Waco community. Is the African American Community found in East Waco included in this community? What about the large Latinx community throughout Waco and the surrounding suburbs? Are they excluded too? Does “Unity Through Community” apply to the Middle Eastern community, which centralizes itself streets away from Baylor’s campus? And the largely underground immigrant and asylum-seeker community in Waco, how does this campaign impact them? When looking at social media and the emphasis of the Walker campaign, the graphics, endorsements and emphases would lead me to believe each of these answers would be an uncomfortable “no.”
Additionally, based on the proclaimed religious identity of the Walker Campaign, there should be a fundamental understanding of the importance of identity as well as an integral celebration of diversity. We know, from Genesis 10 and Revelation 7, God celebrates the notion of racial and ethnic diversity. Those at the table of God (Genesis 10) are not a group of monolithic Caucasians who rushed IFC or PHC organizations, but instead, they would actually be a heterogeneous group largely comprised of the people groups listed above and other racial and ethnic minority groups.
I am reminded of the common Vacation Bible School (VBS) song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” In it, the song sings “red and yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in his sight.” While so fundamental, it seems as though the Walker campaign has forsaken such elementary yet necessary theology as they portray a Christian identity.
On Tuesday, please vote with a mindset beyond the immediate. Vote for the people who contribute to Waco in innumerable ways. Vote for the people who can often feel marginalized by majority culture. Vote for the candidate whose campaign and supporters of the campaign are a diverse group of people coming together for the common good. Join me in electing Zach Tufenkjian as our student body’s next External Vice President in Tuesday’s runoff.
Jackson is a senior medical humanities major from Jones, Okla., and a senior class senator.