The Ohio University College Democrats, or OUCD, faced backlash on social media shortly after posting a photo of its newly elected executive board for the 2019-2020 academic year.
A few social media users pointed out that the new leadership team of the student organization is comprised of an all-female, all-white team and criticized the appearance of a lack of ethnic and gender diversity within the group. Those criticisms led OUCD president-elect Meah McCallister to publish a response on Twitter addressing the issue.
“The reason why people are angry is because men are not included, but if the executive board was comprised of entirely white men, those people would not be making the same comments,” McCallister said. “Privilege shouts for privilege when privilege is left out.”
Ohio University is also not the most diverse campus and neither is the state of Ohio. According to OU’s headcount by race, 78.8 percent of the campus is white. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Ohio is 82.2 percent white.
Jennifaye Brown, who is the chair of the OU Diversity and Inclusion committee, said diversity should be a factor, and if it is a concern of the group, it is up to the members to seek constituents who they want represented in the group and leadership.
“All voices and a myriad of perspectives need to be heard and recognized, however it is a two-way street,” Brown said. “Representation can be fickle because someone didn’t reach out or someone didn’t reach in”
Brown, an assistant clinical professor of physical therapy, said those people shouldn’t be complaining if they were not part of the process or attempting to make a change.
“I think that our body should be more representative of the campus itself, which is why I think it is unfortunate we are all white women,” McCallister said. “I wish that we had a more diverse campus to begin with to have a more diverse student organization.”
The OUCDs, like many other student organizations on campus, elect executive boards to fill student leadership roles such as president, treasurer, publicity managers and secretary. The OUCDs elect its new executive board every spring when the academic year is concluding.
McCallister said all of the new executive board, including herself, were the only candidates to run for the positions, making the races uncontested and that is rare for the group.
“People wouldn’t have batted an eye if it was an all-male exec. board, and I’m sure throughout the history of OU we’ve probably had some in the past,” Bailey Williams, the current president of the OUCDs, said.
Missy Pedulla, the 2018-2019 president of the OU College Republicans, said she doesn’t think that should be a big issue since it isn’t a recurring incident.
“Ask us about what does make us diverse and what you can’t see in a photo,” Pedulla said. “A photo is not always worth a thousand words.”
McCallister said she believes the people weren’t coming from a bad place, and she agrees to a certain extent. She does believe those people should realize who they are attacking because it is harmful to criticize women when talking about diversity.
“They don’t know what these women are capable of and I believe they are going to do a phenomenal job” Williams said.