The Auburn Diversity and Inclusion Task Force got one step closer to recommending a formal board or commission for the city of Auburn at a recent meeting.
The task force, one of four created by Auburn Mayor Ron Anders to tackle pressing issues in the city, has met multiple times over the course of the year. The last two meetings have included discussions of creating a permanent, appointed board or commission.
"I would like for us to get a little further along to the point where we can get ready to really draft some kind of working document that Steven (Dixon) and I can start talking to the City Council about because ... anything we want to do that involves some type of permanent entity that comes under the guise of the City Council and the city of Auburn, the City Council would have to weigh in and approve that body," Anders said.
Task force members tried to sort through a few issues for the potential new board — its name, the number of appointed members and what its mission would be.
One of the harder issues discussed was naming the permanent entity, even determining whether it should be called a commission or board.
"The name of this group — you don't think anything about it but I think it's important," said Anders. "It sends the initial message to all those that are receiving it."
A number of iterations for the board's name came up from different members — Mike Halperin suggested it be called something like the Community Relations Committee.
"I like to keep things simple," he said. "And I think what we're about is community relations ... I think the word diversity is fine for what we're about and what we're trying to achieve, but it may put people off. It's just a funny feeling I have about that."
Task force member Brittany Branyon seemed to agree with Halperin's take on using the word diversity.
"I think also that diversity, it's a part of the picture we're looking at, obviously, but it could almost be divisive. It just really doesn't make sense. What we're here for, really, is equity. We all want everyone to be on the same field. And I really like the idea of community relations or something like that ... Something like that is more appealing to the masses."
Task force members Chad Peacock and Asim Ali suggested that community relations might be too broad, with Ali wanting the name "to signify action."
"But at the same time community is a very good word because it means people coming together, so I can see both sides of it," said Peacock, who also tossed out the word "coalition" as a possible part of the name, which drew support from others on the task force.
"I didn't want us to shy away from what brought us together," Ali said. "What I want is if somebody is feeling like they need a voice they should be able to know where to go for having a voice when it comes to how the city of Auburn is."
The task force ended the meeting without coming up with a concrete name, but planned to mull it over in the coming weeks.
The task force also landed on recommending that the permanent entity be made up of nine appointed members, although it was noted that it would be impossible to represent every group in the city on the board.