Event focuses on defining, fighting discrimination


Christopher L. Mallory, supervising attorney for student legal services talks about the rights given to employees and tenants which protect them from discrimation at the Legal Meaning of Discrimination; an event sponsored by the UI Legal Services and Sigma Lambda Gamma at the IMU on February 28, 2017. (The Daily Iowan/Osama Khalid)

By Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw

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In the wake of President Trump’s controversial travel ban implemented earlier this year, Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority and University of Iowa Student Legal Services have teamed up to explain the legal definition of discrimination.

At an event held Tuesday, leaders offered a broad overview of what constitutes as discrimination and insight to laws that prohibit discrimination toward individuals because of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and other factors in Iowa.

Christopher Malloy, the supervising attorney for Student Legal Services, explained laws to UI students to better enable them to understand their rights as citizens.  Malloy presented specifics about laws under the Iowa Civil Rights Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He presented both the state and federal laws in attempt to highlight the hierarchy in government policies.

According to SigmaLambdaGamma.com, the historically Latina-based sorority is dedicated to social-justice initiatives and works to be involved in the community for the betterment of society.  The event was held in order to inform students about the characteristics of discrimination.

If people believe that they are being discriminated against, Malloy said, they should start to pay attention to all communication and incidents, including emails and text messages.

“Keep all records. Get out a piece of paper or your computer and create a timeline with dates and times,” he said. “You have to be able to prove it to be able to get some sort of remedy.”

There are also time limits as to when an individual can file a complaint or lawsuit against the allegers.

“You must file within 300 days of the last alleged discriminatory act,” Malloy said.

Alejandra Castillo, the bylaws head of Sigma Lambda Gamma, said she wanted the event to better inform the students about their rights.

“Giving people the chance to ask the questions that they may have, that they may not know how to ask at the time of feeling discriminated against is the overall goal,” she said.

Teresa Brewington, the director of risk management for Sigma Lambda Gamma headquarters, said she has a great amount of experience when it comes to the legalities of discrimination.

“You have to be very specific [about the events]. That is the hardest part,” Brewington said.

Michi Lopez, a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma, said it is important to understand the hierarchies of federal agencies and state governments.

“A lot of students have a lot of assumptions about the law, but they might not always be right,” Lopez said.

Not only is there hope among the sorority members that students will better understand their rights, they can learn how to voice their opinions while understanding the legal steps that need to occur.

Castillo said she believes that in the current political state of the United States, individuals should be ready for every situation.

“We need to become as educated as possible about discrimination,” she said.

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