The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government held a meeting earlier in April to address concerns about gender-based discrimination within the organization.
During the meeting, women were able to express concerns over negative experiences with men that they had in USG in regards to power relations.
The Title IX advocacy coordinator in USG at the time, Aanya Mehta, a sixth-semester health policy individualized major, was largely responsible for addressing these concerns.
“I focus on enforcing Title IX, which is the federal law that prohibits any gender-based discrimination or harassment in any workplace that receives federal funds,” Mehta said.
The discussion had a no name policy and a general goal of being a welcoming and safe space for members to come and have their voices heard, USG Chief Diversity Officer, Tae’Niajha Pullen, a fourth-semester political science and Black anthropology individualized major explained.
“I was at the meeting. I think it went amazing,” Pullen said. “It’s important to have spaces where people can talk about their feelings and air out their grievances with no fear of retaliation.”
The group of women who expressed the complaints seemed fairly random, Pullen explained, in terms of the type of role and level of power they were in.
“I first heard about this issue when the complaints arose. I never have personally faced discrimination in USG based on my gender,” Pullen said.
Complaints about gender-based discrimination are not solely a problem in USG, Mehta pointed out.
“This is an issue that women in every organization face and something that women across the world struggle with,” Mehta said.
To ensure that the conversations did not stop and that actual change within USG would be made, Mehta talked about the areas of action USG wants to implement.
“At the end of the conversation, we talked about action items and steps we can take moving forward because that’s what is really important,” Mehta said. “We talked about having more gender training and leadership training where we would focus on how to improve the culture of the organization.”
Pullen believes that the meeting was a success and has hope to better this issue within USG.
“A lot of people were pleased after the meeting. Aanya said she got a lot of messages after it with people thanking her for providing a space to have that discussion,” Pullen said.