With a 25-3 vote in a special election Wednesday night, the University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate elected Michael Christy as the new USG Chief Diversity Officer following former CDO-elect B Diaz’s resignation March 10.
Christy, a fourth-semester political science major and a USG associate justice, said he is ready to foster an inclusive community in USG.
“We cannot hear, learn and accept one another if we do not build a community that allows us to be vulnerable with each other about our experiences,” Christy said. “Each of us deserves an equal and just chance in achieving anything we set our minds to, today we look forward to a brighter future.”
Diaz, a seventh-semester political science major and former USG CDO-elect, strongly endorsed Christy’s candidacy.
“I am deeply grateful for his service, courage and commitment to giving a voice to those who too often go unseen and unheard,” Diaz said. “Although I did not have the strength to serve the student body as CDO of USG at this time, I am so proud of Michael and I just trust and know that he will deliver.”
Christy ran against Guillmar Valle, a fourth-semester chemical engineering major who was endorsed by the current CDO Damani Douglas, a sixth-semester political science and communication double major.
Dibran Trepca, the runner-up in the original CDO election who won 364 write-in votes to Diaz’s 1,631, received a nomination for the special election and had previously issued an official candidate statement. However, Trepca did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting and failed to accept his nomination.
A handful of senators abstained from the vote and questioned the validity of the special election. Under the original USG bylaws, Trepca as the runner-up would become CDO elect in the event of a resignation. But after Diaz’s resignation, the USG Judiciary changed the bylaws so a vacancy of the CDO elect position would be decided by a two-thirds senate majority.
As an associate justice, Christy participated in the ruling to invalidate Trepca’s assumption of the CDO seat. Christy said he did not decide to run for CDO until after the official ruling when fellow students encouraged him to pursue the position. He said upon making that decision, he recused himself from any decision pertaining to the CDO election.
Christy emphasized that the reason for the special election was the harassment Diaz faced.
“What we all witnessed and happened to B Diaz should never happen to anyone, and to speak honestly, none of us should be running for this position today in this capacity because the truth is a woman of color should be next in line to taking this seat,” Christy said.
Christy is a founding member of POWER UP Connecticut and the president of the UConn chapter. According to the UConn chapter’s Instagram page, POWER UP is focused on “giving voices to the unheard BIPOC students at UConn and educating our community on current injustices around the world.”
In the fall, Christy also helped organize the vigil for Breonna Taylor on the Student Union Lawn. Christy said he also participates in the UConn branch of the NAACP and UConn Collaborative Organizing. According to the UConn branch’s UConntact page, it works to “mobilize for diversity, equity, and climate action” and “resist institutional racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.”
As CDO, Christy will be responsible for promoting diversity and equality within USG and the UConn undergraduate population. According to the USG constitution, the CDO leads USG’s Diversity and Outreach Commission; issues formal bias responses to the student body; records USG diversity statistics; works to reach underrepresented groups during elections; approves or vetoes new hires, nominations, appointments and terminations; investigates bias allegations within USG; and, if necessary, recommends sanctions for perpetrators.