At the SGA senate meeting on April 7, senators passed a bill to fund the upcoming “Stop Racism” event and passed a resolution to change the SGA-recognized definition of antisemitism. They also heard a presentation from the Office of Institutional Equity.
“Stop Racism” event funding
Senate Bill 21, authored by Speaker pro tempore AJ Bailey, set aside $380.62 for the “Stop Racism” event, which will take place on April 25 at 6 p.m. SGA adviser Noelle San Souci explained that the event would be a part of programming planned for the Martin Luther King Jr. week of service.
She said the “Stop Racism” event is the “only event that’s going to be put on for students by students” as part of MLK week.
Bailey said in the bill that the event is meant “for all UCCS students to engage in a discussion … about racism persisting on the UCCS campus,” as well as an SGA outreach event to “help students get to know members of student government.”
In a November 2021 resolution confirming SGA’s support of the event, Bailey also wrote that the event’s goal is “to show that the Student Body at [UCCS] … supports the Black Lives Matter movement towards events.”
San Souci and Speaker of the Senate Aidan Clark said that the money would be going mainly toward catering the event, with some extra provided as a cushion.
Senator of Education Flora Jathanna brought forward an antisemitism resolution, which she said came about through a conversation with a concerned student.
The goal of the resolution is to “adopt the official definition of Anti-Semitism put forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance,” which states “antis-semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.”
This definition covers “rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-semitism as directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and their religious facilities.”
Examples of antisemitism in the bill cover comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and accusing Jews of being disloyal American citizens. The resolution also says that this definition has been adopted by the U.S. State Department, the Colorado Department of Education and 30 governments around the world.
When introducing the resolution, Jathanna read a statement from Senator of the Arts Chloe Rosencrantz, who was not present at the meeting:
“As a Jewish woman, this bill is significant to a step in the right direction for hate and antisemitism at UCCS. It has been an issue for two millennia and continues to be even though we only make up roughly 2% of the overall population.”
In the statement, Rosencrantz went on to say that she believes the resolution will “make Jewish students and non-Jewish students feel welcome and safer on campus, knowing that SGA condemns antisemitic acts.”
Office of Institutional Equity presentation
Senate members heard from Campus Director of the Office of Institutional Equity Laura Emmot, who came to address misconceptions students have about the office and explain that the primary function of OIE is to investigate Title IX violations, which she said “[have] expanded to include all forms of discrimination based on sex.”
The OIE website outlines its purview as “[addressing] all complaints of sexual misconduct and protected class discrimination and harassment.” According to Emmot, the office’s goal is to educate people on a case-by-case basis about what constitutes harassment.
“If someone is found responsible for violating University policy … we don’t issue that immediate action … We don’t have that authority,” she said. “We are a neutral office, also by law.”
Emmot said that if a situation calls for disciplinary action regarding harassment, the dean of students will handle issues with students, and human resources will address issues with UCCS staff.
“It’s not that I’m not sympathetic or empathetic … we do this work because we want people that have the opportunity to be heard,” Emmot said. “But we do not have the authority to issue sanctions or disciplinary action.”
According to Emmot, her purview ends when the people concerned are not connected directly to the campus as students or staff.
“That is a hard thing to understand sometimes,” she said, referring to situations where she cannot help victims of harassment under the scope of UCCS. “But if they don’t belong to us … there’s nothing that could even happen to them.”
Emmot concluded her time by informing senators that OIE is seeking a new investigator and encouraging anyone interested to apply.