This week in SGA: Diversity events underway, new attorney general announced

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This week in SGA: Diversity events underway, new attorney general announced

Gerardo Aguilera | @jerry21aguilera and Madison McLean | @MadisonMcLean3

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WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 25

SGA’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sponsored The Everyday Bullying of Microaggressions: Recognizing and Intervening, the second event of the four event series, Wednesday evening in the Ferguson Student Center Ballroom. 

“Remember that you are not just here for a certificate, but to be a catalyst for change,” said Demarcus Joiner, the Vice President for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Yolanda Flores Niemann, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of North Texas who spoke at the event and led her discussion of “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Words Will Never Hurt Me: Understanding the Impact of Microaggressions.” Niemann conducts research on the effects and social ecological contexts of stereotypes, especially in academia, and the psychological effects of tokenism. 

Niemann worked as a tenured professor at the University of Houston, a faculty member at Utah State University, and then worked up the ranks at Washington State University where she became a tenured professor and then an administrator. 

Niemann said she wanted her research as a professor to be something meaningful and applicable to everyday life, so she asked the vice president of diversity at the University of North Texas, “What is the complaint that you get most in this office?”

The answer was “microaggressions,” not only from students, but also from faculty and staff.

Niemann shared her results about microaggressions and the categories that fall within it: microinsults, microassaults and microinvalidations. 

Niemann described a microinsult as a comment or action that communicates insensitivity to or disregard for a person’s identity or heritage. For example, a person saying, “Girls don’t do well in STEM fields,” or “Wow, you speak really good English.” She described a microassault as overt discrimination, such as blackface, and a microinvalidation as something that excludes or negates someone’s experience, thoughts or feelings, like telling young girls that “boys will be boys” or asking a woman what she was wearing when she was sexually harassed or assaulted

The goal of the event was to inform students, faculty and staff of microaggressions and to help them become more aware of when they are using microaggressions. 

The Panhellenic community supported this event and encouraged 10% of members in all 19 Panhellenic organizations to attend the events.

“This series will heighten our awareness of the opportunity and responsibility that we have as student leaders to be engaged, involved, and make a difference – for the good of the Capstone,” Joiner said.

The next Diversity, Equity and Inclusion event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in the Ferguson Student Center Ballroom. 

THURSDAY, SEPT. 26

The Student Government Association introduced their new attorney general, Justin Cenname, on Thursday night. 

“SGA is excited to have Justin Cenname as our newest Attorney General,” said Jackson Fuentes, SGA Press Secretary. “Justin has always been committed to serving students and has extensive experience in SGA. We look forward to continuing to serve the student body with him as our new attorney general.” 

Cenname, a senior majoring in political science, has received various honors from the University, such as being named to the President’s List as well as honor societies like Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma.

Cenname, who has been a part of SGA since his freshman year, began his career as an associate justice in the judicial branch. He has worked his way up to become a chief justice his junior year. 

As a chief justice, Cenname has presided over cases ranging from parking ticket appeals to SGA elections.

Cenname recently worked on a new parking ticket system with Parking Services at the University of Alabama that allows students who could not pay their parking ticket do community service. Cenname said the initiative aimed “to help those people with low economic backgrounds, and to encourage servicing the community.”

One of Cenname’s biggest goals as the new attorney general, he said, would be for all senators to work together to pass new legislation. He said he strongly believes all branches should work together. 

“I want to find senators that will work with you, because there is always more space in the docket,” Cenname said, emphasizing his push for members of the organization to work harder for their constituents.