ASW’s VP Plans to Tackle Issues This Semester
October 11, 2021
by Ashley May ('21)
Deaun Saxby (’21) came to Westminster from Texas in 2018 because of her desire to engage with others. She’s always been a social person; her amiable nature makes anyone feel welcome. “The personal relationships with each professor and staff brought me here,” Deaun says. “And I would say I came to Westminster for the small, personable community.” She’s completing her final semester at Westminster as vice president of Associated Students of Westminster (ASW). It's no surprise that Deaun is active in Westminster’s community. She’s worked for various offices on campus, and she became a residential advisor (RA) in the hope of creating a close-knit community that accepts all. During her time as an RA, Deaun hosted activities for residential students to boost camaraderie, made goodie bags during finals weeks, and answered questions or concerns that residential students had.
Deaun’s passion for human connection and social justice also fuels her career goal of event planning. As a finance major anticipating graduation in fall of 2021, Deaun’s focus is to accomplish personal goals while advocating for the Black community both on campus and off.
“I’m trying to break barriers—especially here in Utah and in the school systems. I just recently joined the nonprofit D.I.V.A. as a board member,” Deaun says.
D.I.V.A. (Diversity, Inclusion, Values, Action) is an organization founded by Westminster economics pre-law major and global studies minor, Jenessa Jimoh (‘22).
“The organization focuses on crucial social topics that are often left out of Utah's socio-political, educational, and cultural environments with the overall goal of bringing more awareness and help educate individuals who don't fully understand these issues or choose to ignore them,” Deaun says.
She also devotes time to advocacy through her roles on campus as president of Westminster College’s Black Student Union (BSU) and the newly appointed first Black female vice president of ASW. Because she will hold the position for only a semester, Deaun plans to tackle critical issues she identified, as well as the concerns of students.
Reconnecting With the Student Body
“Brendan (ASW president) and I are focusing on diversity, but also reconnecting with students through ASW. We feel like ASW is a student-led organization, but the students don’t feel like they have a place within ASW.
“Right now, we’re thinking of doing a symposium and we are going to connect with all campus partners. We want to sit down and ask what ASW can do better for students and bring students resources that they may need. Coming into these new roles, we want to know where the relationship stands.
“With students, we want to do pop-ups in Bassis. Any student can come to us and tell us any issues they want to see addressed. We all want to connect with the students more personally; we want to show our face and make it well-known that we’re here for students.”
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
“When it comes to inclusion, the opposite word is ‘exclusion,’ but people don’t realize what plays a big part is invalidation. Professors should be more aware of the disadvantages of certain students and create an inclusive space even when the diversity is lacking.
“‘Preaching and not teaching’ is a saying we use in the BIPOC community when an individual is putting on a facade and not backing up their words with action. Some faculty and staff don't understand the day-to-day struggles people of color might face being at a predominantly white campus. Additional training could help faculty and staff understand more, but also provide resources and education on how to become an ally and advocate for BIPOC students when they have the chance to do so. As part of this, they need to understand our stories and experiences as people of color.”
DEI Training for Students
"Faculty, staff, and students are required to do Title IX training, and I feel like we should have a mandatory training on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This should be applied throughout students’ entire college experience. This is something that you can take into the workplace as well. Once you learn it at Westminster you can take it with you and help create better spaces for minorities.”
ASW Diversity Committee
“We’re trying to create a Diversity Committee within ASW. That way it’s in the legislation and it has to meet every year and incorporate a representative from BSU, the AAPI club, international students, Queer Compass, or any other minority group. They can discuss issues and tell us what students want to see or what they need. This is a place where they can come and say, ‘These students need support, whether that is mental, financial, or physically.’ As execs, we can create a plan.”
Dedicated Space for BIPOC Students
“I want to create a space for BIPOC. We always must have it ‘on’—by ‘on,’ I mean codeswitching. We want to be able to fully turn it off and feel comfortable. Being Black takes a toll on my mental health every day. I should have a space where I can come in and ‘turn it off.’"
“I really hope the things we do here will last because they are so important. I can’t be VP forever, and that’s why we’re trying to get a lot of this solidified.”
Although Deaun’s time as an ASW executive member is short, she hopes to make lasting changes. Her dedication to challenging the status quo resides in a desire to ensure everyone feels accepted. As Westminster’s newly appointed vice president, Deaun is prepared to support the student body.
Anyone interested in contacting Deaun Saxby, Vice President of ASW, can email her at email@example.com.