Editor’s note: Kayla Kelly, a staff columnist for The Eagle, was not involved in the reporting, writing or editing of this story.
In an emboldened speech during Sunday’s Undergraduate Senate meeting, then-Speaker Ishita Jamar addressed the body over the sexism and racism she said she experienced in recent weeks.
Jamar said that this is not the first time she has addressed the senate about the issue.
“In my 10 weeks as speaker, I have experienced blatant sexism and racism,” she said. “And, when I addressed it, I was met with pushback. … I am tired of constantly reminding the men in this senate on how to act.”
Jamar, who declined to name anyone in particular, has since stepped down from the speakership to run for SG president in the spring elections. Campus-at-large Senator Ryan Hale resigned from the position of Speaker Pro Tempore to run for speaker.
Jamar told The Eagle that as she has held positions of power throughout her life, this is not the first time she has faced racism or sexism. However, when she assumed the speakership position, their impact became evident.
In her speech to the body, she pointed out how incidents such as the kidnapping and killing of London native Sarah Everard evolve out of seemingly “minor jokes” that many people write off as harmless.
Several senators agreed with Jamar’s points, citing their personal experiences with racism or sexism from their colleagues inside and outside of senate meetings. They did not state specific instances. Class of 2024 Senator Kayla Kelly stressed that all senators need to be held accountable.
“I refuse to give the student body the impression that we allow this kind of behavior,” Kelly said.
Campus-at-large Senator Whitney Powers acknowledged that on multiple occasions she has seen and faced sexism during her time as a senator. She even considered resigning because of these experiences, she said. Powers stated that this issue needs to be addressed and taken seriously.
“Actions and words have consequences,” Powers said.
Jamar told senators to speak up if they have witnessed conversations with sexist and racist comments and said if these incidents continue, she will discuss steps with the Judicial Board, a branch of SG in charge of handling alleged violations of the governing documents.
“The suffering that people of color have to go through every day through microaggressions and harmful comments has to end,” Jamar said. “We are in the 21st century. It is time we start acting like it.”