SGA’s DEI comments on failed petition, discuss future


Caleb Johnson

SGA Senators Edwin Perez-Hernandez (left), Atlas Babcock, Princess Rogers, Arianna Ramos, Alexia Musgraves and Debbie Allen discussing the meaning of diversity. The senators were disappointed with the outcome of the SGA petition for Black students. (Caleb Johnson | Northern Star)

By Caleb Johnson, Lifestyle Writer

DeKALB – The Student Government Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee hosted a panel that touched on the failure of the recent petition for Black students and to get feedback and encourage conversation between SGA representatives and students.

Abby Tinsley, a sophomore business major, asked the senators their feelings on the failure to pass the recent petition addressing the concerns of Black students.

The senators’ consensus was that they were disappointed with the results and that they had hoped for a different outcome.

“I think it’s important to recognize that people didn’t understand the point of the legislation, so we’re working hard to educate (Senate) members through various activities on what they are voting against,” said Senator Debbie Allen, deputy speaker and vice-chair of DEI.

Joseph Flynn, executive director for equity and inclusion mentioned if the committee ever need assistance, they have the support of the Division of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“Please reach out to anybody in ADEI. ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ is also in our title, and I just wanted to say we’re here and we’re 100% in support of your efforts,” Flynn said.

Flynn also stressed the importance seeking support from the NIU administration, whose goals align with the DEI committee’s goals.

Flynn mentioned two members of the administration who would be willing to help the committee: ADEI Program Coordinator Tamara Boston and Vice President of Student Affairs Clint-Michael Reneau.

“You might get stonewalled by a faculty member or administrator; please call me or one of us. We can push those doors open. I’m tenured, so I can say what I feel like,” Flynn said.

Senator Princess Rogers, a representative for underserved student communities, highlighted the struggle of being Black in academic and professional settings.

“I would like to say that operating in certain spaces and being Black don’t always coexist all the time,” Rogers said.

Rogers touched on the difficulty of not being taken seriously and being misunderstood.

“Conversations aren’t heard – I’m saying the words, but you’re not hearing. I think that’s one of the biggest barriers when it comes to advocacy for Black students,” Rogers said.

Flynn also expressed concerns about the issue from an administrator’s perspective.

“When you’re an intelligent Black student, they’re caught up on, ‘Oh my God, you’re so smart, you’re so intelligent,’ as opposed to ‘Oh, great point,’” Flynn said.

The senators requested for the attendees to look up the list of demands from Black students listed on NIU President Lisa Freeman’s webpage and see which of the demands have actually been enacted.

Responding to a question by Tinsley, the senators said they are working on legislation that supports members of the LGBTQ+ population on campus in wake of rising concerns of violence against transgender people and transphobic laws being passed around the country.

“Our goal tonight is to create and maintain a space for those who belong to marginalized communities, so they can feel empowered while voicing their opinion on campus,” Allen said.

The senators and attendees also spoke of the challenges that can be faced implementing change on campus and what diversity meant to them.

“I think this panel represents a rainbow of people, and we have a diverse campus, with people from all walks of life. I really like that idea, and that’s what diversity means for me,” Rogers said.

A student also shared their feelings about diversity on campus.

“I feel very enthusiastic about what the future of diversity, equity and inclusion looks like here on campus,” Tinsley said.

The SGA DEI committee’s next event will be the Rainbow Rave on March 31, register on the event Huskie Hub page.