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Student organizations issue support for SGA’s demands following Sewell’s resignation

Student organizations issue support for SGA’s demands following Sewell’s resignation

Student organizations issue support for SGA’s demands following Sewell’s resignation
November 17
11:33 2019

The publication of five demands for UNT by the UNT Student Government Association, Black Student Union and NAACP about increasing inclusivity on campus has prompted other student organizations to come forward and respond to the demands, with many organizations supporting the measures SGA proposed. 

“I think it’s an opportunity to broaden the conversation a little bit more,”Latinx/Hispanic Student Union President Susan Ramirez said. “In regards, some issues can be trickled down too, in a sense, like expanding it to other minorities as well. Not just like the Latinx and Hispanic community, it can be for our Asian Pacific Islander, it can also be for Native Americans. The list goes on. So really, it’s a good opportunity to kind of like start that conversation, but we can also, all of us as a community here at UNT, continue to have it and expand it even more.”

“I feel like if the minority groups know that we’re here for them, they’ll just be more impactful and they will feel safer coming to UNT,” LHSU Secretary Josselyne Sibrian said. “I know that’s the big reason they’re doing this. I guess our minority group does feel unrepresented. In my opinion, I feel like they are, even the Latinx Hispanics.”

Speaking in her capacity as a UNT student, UNT NAACP Vice President Brittney Johnson said that the events of last week “has really brought us together.”

“It’s definitely opened up a lot of students’ eyes and given them a voice and even students of all different backgrounds,” Johnson said. “It is not even just African American students… So I think it’s really bringing students together, mainly students in the African American community and the black and brown community, but it’s definitely giving students a voice and allowing them to stand up because they feel like we’re together. You know, we’re bigger in numbers than we are as individuals. So I think it’s made a great impact.”

When it comes to the demands, Johnson does not see why UNT would disagree with them since the demands are focused on helping minority students feel supported, comfortable and safe.

“I think they’re all worth taking into consideration,” Johnson said. “Because I feel like if we are a university with so many different, diverse people, I feel like it’s important that we have the representation throughout faculty, that we have the faculty members have the education and the awareness of that as well, the proper training and so many other things. So I think it’s important. I believe that the demands are reasonable and important. So things that could definitely be taken into consideration.”

Other UNT organizations like the Reproductive Rights Organization of Student Educators, GLAD, Embrace, the Black Faculty Network and the Movimiento Unido Estudiantil Vida Eterna have also supported these demands, releasing statements on Twitter.

“I truly hope UNT agrees to SGA’s demands,” integrative studies sophomore Nate Bishara said. “UNT, from my perspective as a student, doesn’t have the best track record of backing their students. However, I think they might, because of the efforts of the SGA, BSU, NAACP and UNT students … coming together for it. Every issue that has been brought up by these groups deserves to be heard. And I truly hope UNT doesn’t just listen, but they act.”

As a co-sponsor of  the “When Hate Comes to Campus” panel discussion, UNT’s Women Faculty Network released a statement on Sewell’s use of the n-word at the event and her resignation in support of mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all UNT employees.

“The UNT Women’s Faculty Network denounces the use of such language by anyone, including employees of the university,” WFN’s statement said. “We stand with our students and fellow faculty of color. Although the official who uttered the slur has resigned from the UNT System, we urge the administration to take quick steps to improve the atmosphere of diversity and inclusion and make our campus safer for students, staff, and faculty of color… We look forward to supporting any action on this campus that will lead to positive change.”

The BSU president Cameron Combs said the UNT Black Alumni Network and the Latino Faculty and Staff Alliance have also supported their demands as well.

“I just honestly want our administrators to support our black students,” Combs said. “I just want our campus to change and actually make change and actually grow and learn from these different mistakes that have been made, whether that be from a university member who is a staff member at our campus or a system-wide member. I just want them to be able to support our black students, as well as our Latino students, our Asian students, our Native American students. But definitely, since this is something that really triggered the black community, I really want the administrators to be able to be there and offer some kind of support for us.”

SGA’s petition for their demands to be met on inclusivity at UNT surpassed 2,100 signatures with a total of 2,122 signatures as of 4 p.m. on Nov. 12. 

Combs said when speaking to an administrator, they found that the demands created by SGA, BSU and NAACP are similar to those demands students had when first establishing the Multicultural Center.

“I feel like this speaks on as far as the university hasn’t changed as much,” Combs said “And so, I feel like there are trainable demands that we can get pushed through. So we’re meeting with administrators and trying to see exactly what we can do, we’re all getting together as well as we’re also reaching out to other [organizations] and seeing exactly what other demands they have and so with that list of demands, we plan to make it more universal for all minority students on campus.”

The demands are mainly focused on the fact that there are 25,000 students involved with the 25-year-old Multicultural Center, and UNT being a minority serving institution where 53 percent of the student population is made up of minorities, Comb said.

“We’re still meeting,” Comb said. “And then trying to get things formulated and orchestrated, so we can start making some effective change on campus.”

The Graduate Student Council and SGA partnered to provide “an opportunity to socialize and meet with the overarching student government at UNT” on Nov. 13 in Union 339 which was originally scheduled as a GSC lunch, according to an email sent by the GSC president. 

According to the email, now, this event is to give students the opportunity to voice their concerns or have their questions answered from 12 to 2 p.m. by different executive members.

“Minorities aren’t just people to be put on pamphlets,” Bishara said. “All of UNT’s students should be and feel respected. Any form of hate put towards minority groups should be shot down and taken seriously by this university. The cultural competency and racial awareness programs that were in SGA’s letter are great ways to help UNT become a better and more inclusive place for all of its students. UNT should choose to include them because protecting its students should be a priority.”

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias, Kylie Phillips and Miranda Thomas

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Rebekah Schulte

Rebekah Schulte

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1 Comment

  1. JD
    JD November 19, 09:36

    What are the five demands?

    Reply to this comment

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