UNT SGA creates petition in hopes to bring awareness to the lack of diversity on campus

Article Originally Published by Natalie Ochoa on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

As a result of the racially offensive incident that occurred at the “When Hate Comes to Campus” event last week, UNT’s Student Government Association produced a list of demands that they will present to the Board of Regents as an action point on Thursday. 

A petition connected to these demands was sent out publicly on social media on Nov. 8 from the UNT SGA Twitter page. Within four days of its release, the petition gained more than 2,000 signatures from the UNT community. Other organizations such as The Black Faculty Network, Embrace, the UNT Latinx Hispanic Student Union, MUEVE and UNT GLAD have expressed their support for the petition.  

“I’m glad that students are advocating for what they feel is best for the institution and their peers going forward,” Vice President for Student Affairs, Elizabeth With said. “I am certain that we will find ways to implement as many of the suggestions as possible that they have brought forward.” 

With said that the Division of Student Affairs will continue the dialogue with students, working with President Smatresk and the Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity.  

“We created the petition to allow the student body to stand up and use their voice,” SGA Communications Director Hutchinson said. “Far too often administration pushes student concerns off to the side saying they’ll do whatever they can to support us, but then immediately turn around and say it can’t be done.” 

Many students voiced their opinion on the matter following the “When Hate Comes to Campus” event. 

“I just felt like there’s been a lack of clarity as to how UNT is being active in advocating for students and being held to their standard of being an inclusive campus,” Luis Carrillo, media arts junior and Hispanic Student Association sports coordinator said. “The recent incident that happened a few days ago was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I’m tired of the board sitting around with their arms crossed not speaking or acting on behalf of the student’s feedback.” 

Carrillo also spoke about the invitation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and how it was negligent of the emotions of the almost 25 percent Hispanic population within the student body.  

“First and foremost, our [organizations] and student government have made it very clear that we’re not happy with the way UNT is representing its minority groups and we want change,” Carrillo said. “We as a student body have to make sure these demands are met and are kept up with. Students have a job to do and that’s to make sure UNT takes responsibility for when they fail to make students like their lives, opinions and voices matter here.” 

The first demand from the list revolves around the creation and enforcement of comprehensive awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units which would be mandatory for all faculty, staff and administration.  

“I think the benefit of these demands is quite resounding,” Hutchinson said. “How can students learn in an environment that doesn’t fully support them? UNT consistently promotes and makes money off of the fact that we are diverse, inclusive and almost an MSI, but then we have administrators, professors and staff across the UNT system over the course of these years who have proven the cultural incompetency and ignorance — yet nothing has been done about it.” 

The UNT Student Affairs Office sent out a bulk email to registered UNT students on Nov. 8, the day after the “When Hate Comes to Campus” event that said there is no place in the UNT community.  

“If UNT says it’s a home for everyone, show us. If UNT says it prides itself on diversity, show us,” Hutchinson said. “Actions speak louder than words and a three paragraph statement isn’t action, it’s an attempt to solve an incident without actually taking a look at the institutional epidemic of incompetency that plagues this university.” 

UNT students continue to express their concern for the future of the university and their hope for change.  

“It’s time for the board to stop acting like everything will fade away if they turn the other cheek,” Carrillo said. “We’re not going away. We’re here and we’re fighting until something changes because we care.” 

On Thursday, Nov. 14, SGA will be hosting a student sit-in at the Board of Regents meeting at 1 p.m. SGA is encouraging  students to wear all black at the sit-in and use “#NotMyUNT” on social media as a chance to explain what they want to see fixed and or changed within the university moving forward.  

The Dean of Students did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication. 

Featured Image: SGA senators meet on Oct. 23, 2019. Image by Carter Mize

Source: North Texas Daily