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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Denial of nominee leaves student government without diversity commissioner

Student+Body+President+Amy+Sharps+Diversity+Chair+nomination%2C+Political+Science+junior+Ricardo+Mercado%2C+went+unconfirmed+for+the+second+time.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Student Body President Amy Sharp‘s Diversity Chair nomination, Political Science junior Ricardo Mercado, went unconfirmed for the second time.

Student Body President Amy Sharp’s nominee for diversity commissioner was denied confirmation for the second time at Student Senate’s Wednesday night special session.
Political science junior and diversity commissioner nominee Ricardo Mercado did not receive the required two-thirds majority for confirmation, with the assembled senators voting 28 for, 21 against and two abstaining. As a result, Sharp will reopen applications, interview new candidates and present a new nominee to the Senate in the fall semester.
As a member of the Student Body President’s executive cabinet, the diversity commissioner is responsible for “addressing the issues surrounding diversity, its definition and its importance to campus and education in general,” According to the Executive Cabinet’s current position descriptions. “This person must facilitate dialogue, educate campus, generate awareness and emphasize the importance of these issues throughout the Texas A&M System.”
Mercado’s denial at the end of the previous Senate meeting on April 25, which was supposed to be the final meeting of the spring 2018 semester, was the reason Wednesday’s special session was called to order. Sharp had the choice to either present a new nominee this week or to present Mercado a second and final time for Senate’s reconsideration.
During the question and answer session, Finance Chair Mathew Walther asked how Mercado would include all parts of campus in his diversity initiatives.
“My first goal is structuring the diversity commission so that we have appointed individuals who can more directly engage a variety of communities,” Mercado said. “The most efficient way to do this is to keep a tight-knit team but still have the appropriate quantity of individuals. Somebody who is focused on gender and sexuality, someone who is focused on each of the communities we have described as ethnic groups in our census, someone who is dedicated to research and learning more about socioeconomic issues and challenges students face, et cetera.”
College of Engineering Senator Adel Quntar revisited topics from the April 25 meeting and said that many Senate members previously opposed Mercado’s views. Quntar asked Mercado what he has done throughout the past week to communicate with people who opposed him. Mercado said he had reached out to friends and other members in Student Senate who voted for and against him to gain an understanding of what people thought of his message.
During the debate, College of Liberal Arts Senator Regan Thompson defended Mercado for his willingness to discuss the issues people had and his effort to improve for the future.
“This candidate clearly has everything together, he is willing to do the research, willing to reach out to those who are opposed to him which is a huge part of what people said they were against last week, that he did not align himself to certain views that they held to themselves and they were concerned that he would not represent those,” Thompson said. “Someone who searches for that improvement is definitely someone that we should put in this position.”
Academic Affairs Chair Jacob Powell debated against Mercado for multiple reasons, including past social media posts by Mercado that Powell described as contrary to the goal of greater inclusion.
“He mentioned specifically things about what it means to be an Aggie and that he believes that not all of us are true Aggies,” Powell said. “I don’t believe that. I think every single one of us in this room is an Aggie.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Sharp urged students to vote for Mercado, saying she believes he is a qualified and motivated candidate and reminding the Senate that Mercado’s denial would leave SGA without a diversity commissioner for one-third of the year.
“No one is perfectly qualified for a position,” Sharp said. “I am not, Mitch [Parker, Senate Speaker,] is not, and nobody here can know about the roles we hold before we get into them. Ricardo is a Puerto Rican student who speaks four languages, serves as a president and founder of a cultural and ethnic organization and has organized events to collaborate with and support many unique and underrepresented groups on campus.”
Sharp said that while she is disappointed about the results of Wednesday’s special session meeting, she is hopeful that other students who are passionate about diversity will see the open position as an opportunity to step up and get involved.
“I also think in general he’s an amazing individual, unlike anyone I’ve met at A&M,” Sharp said. “He’s got talents and passions that I have never seen before. I just want to wish him the best of luck because he’s so smart and he’s going to do awesome things on this campus even without being in that position.

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