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March 1, 2021    |   Volume 2, Issue 20

TOTD: I’m (not) Sorry: Are you a serial apologizer suffering from the sorry syndrome?

by Karlee Moxley, WSS Affiliate

“Sorry, can I sit here?” 

“Sorry, I have a question”

“Sorry it took me so long to text you back” 

Apologizing for things you didn’t do? In an effort to avoid conflict? For making a reasonable request because you don’t want to be an inconvenience? Apologizing for apologizing? 

Does this sound familiar? It sure does for me. “Sorry” is so ingrained in my vocabulary there are times I don’t even realize I said it until it is pointed out to me (the other day I apologized for sneezing… an actual uncontrollable bodily function!). 

So, why does this happen? The nature of over apologizing has been said to be cultural or even geographical, the good ol’ mid-western “ope, sorry” may come to mind. It has been associated with lived trauma or even an anxiety response. Over apologizing also has an intersectional effect, carrying various layers of historical context and influence. In addition, the excessive use of “sorry” is often tied to gender identity. Like I mentioned, as a white, cisgender female, I have experienced this phenomenon first hand. leading me to my question: why are women and those not identifying as men often finding themselves bearing the weight of the “sorry syndrome” trait?

Lana Wilson, director of Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary says, “It’s because we’re trained to say sorry” (emphasis added). 

Societal norms rooted in whiteness and power thinking of behaviors in a binary, often deem “masculine” traits as associated with strength and assertiveness and many “feminine” traits as valuing empathy and a perceived gentleness. Through this white, misogynistic mindset, along with the generational inheritance and social construct of “appropriate” behavior, it is logical reasoning for women to be directly and indirectly taught to soften their actions and words with an apology. The alternatives can include being ‘aggressive’, ‘bossy’, or considered a ‘b*tch’, (to name a few) when leading or communicating with the strength and assertiveness socially reserved for men. 

Results from two separate studies by Schumann and Ross suggest men do apologize less frequently than women “because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior” and what would need an apology. It was shown women are more likely to apologize for things they don’t need to be sorry for, such as sharing their opinion, asking something of someone, or events completely out of their control (cue my sneeze). This habit can cause unnecessary guilt and even increase anxiety and create toxic self-blame cycles. This compulsive use of “I’m sorry” can affect one’s confidence, as women are essentially consciously or unconsciously, nonverbally or verbally apologizing for existing and taking up our own space.

The ability to apologize is necessary and in many ways demonstrates a true strength. But, only when the apology is genuine and warranted such as apologizing for something truly within our control, a choice or decision we made, when we are in the wrong, harm we caused, or when showing or offering empathy. These are times when the words ”I'm sorry” can mean so much. There’s no need to apologize for ourselves when we haven’t done anything to be sorry for or when feeding into a “socialized passive mindset”, as sociology professor Maja Jovanovic noted, as this can even be perceived as a weakness.

A few things we often apologize for when we don’t need to: 

  • Things you didn’t do

  • Things you can’t control 

  •  Asking a question or needing something 

  •  Your feelings 

  •  Not having all the answers 

  •  Taking a break and moment for ourselves

  •  Your priorities 

  •  Your imperfections 

  •  Saying ‘no’ 

  •  Seeking help 

So, how do we break this ‘sorry syndrome’ habit? By building “strong new pathway[s] in the brain” like we would with any other habit we try to break we can unlearn the excessive apology habit. First, follow Beyoncé and Demi Lovato’s lead and acknowledge the times we aren’t sorry. Notice what we are feeling or thinking and what we subsequently say in response. There is no need to resort to “I’m sorry” as our automatic response to every situation. Ask ourselves if an apology is an appropriate response or necessary in the moment. Reflect on why you want to naturally resort to an apology in this situation. If an apology is actually not needed, rephrase and flip your script:

Instead of “I’m sorry,” you could say: 

  •  “excuse me”

  •  “pardon me”

  •  “go ahead”

  •  “after you”

  •  “your turn” 

  •  “thank you”

  •  “unfortunately...”

Check out these examples by @workparty of flipping your script: 

Another tool is a popular (over 30,000 users) Google Chrome plugin called “Just Not Sorry”. It will warn you when you write emails using ‘qualifying words and phrases” determined to undermine your overall message so you can change your language and verbage before you hit send! 

It is critical to acknowledge everyone’s experiences differ. These differences may be rooted  in our identity, privilege, and even personal lived experiences. Someone’s specific day to day situations may also differ based on various environments we find ourselves in. With that in mind, I hope these examples serve as simple ways we can build ourselves up (and each other), take up the space we are meant to, and continually work to fight socialization in all its forms.  


 Schumann, K., & Ross, M. (2010). Why women apologize more than men: gender differences in thresholds for perceiving offensive behavior. Psychological science, 21(11), 1649–1655. 

 “How to stop saying I’m sorry all the time and what to say instead”, Vivian Manning-Schaffel, NBC, 2018 

 “Why Women Say Sorry and What to Say Instead”, Katie Midena, 2020,

 “Women Really Do Apologize More Than Men. Here’s Why (and It Has Nothing to do With Men Refusing to Admit Wrongdoing), Amy Morin, 

Interested in sharing your own "Thought Of The Day" or TOTD? Come to WILD Wednesday or email us at

Have something to say in the WSS Weekly Zine? To submit an announcement, please email us.

In this edition of WSS Zine you'll find the following announcements...
  • Programs/Services:
    • Women's History Month Events 
    • WILD 2021 Planning Committee
    • WSS Online Office Hours 
    • Free Period Products at MSU Petition
    • Writing Centers and Access: A Speaker Series 
    • Queering Racial Justice Summit
    • Transgender Day of Visibility Student Research Symposium 
    • Jennicet Gutierrez- Trans Liberation: in the fight for LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights
    • My Spartan Story
    • COGS Monthly Yoga Series 
    • MSU Center for Survivors Spring Groups 2021 
    • MSU Family Affinity Group
    • MSU Adult Caregiver Affinity Group 
    • Empowering Stories: Women in Leadership, Business, &Finance
    • Beyond the binary: A gender identity spectrum support group
    • Empower U
    • Gender Identity and Attractionality 
    • POE Peer Educator Application
    • 2021-2022 MSU Student Affairs and Services Scholarships 
    • Save the Date for UURAF!
    • CAPS Connect
  • Community Heath Concern Information
  • About Women*s Student Services
Post your announcement here by emailing


Post your event here by emailing
Join MSU Women*s Student Services in watching the 2021 LUNAFEST films, followed by a Zoom panel discussion with students, staff, & faculty. To claim your free ticket, go to our EventBrite page linked here. For more information on LUNAFEST, visit their website linked here


By signing up on the EventBrite page, you will receive an email the day of the event with a Vimeo link and password to view the short films. You may watch anywhere within a 48 hour window. There will be a synchronous Zoom panel held by the staff of Women*s Student Services, featuring voices from the MSU students, staff and faculty.

The suggested schedule for the event is:

6:30-8:00PM EST - Watch the short films via the Vimeo link

8:00-9:00PM EST - Join the Zoom webinar for the panel discussion

                             Trailer for LUNAFEST 2021

What is Women’s History Month?

Women’s History Month is an annual occurrence every March. We at MSU have created a collaboration across many offices, departments, and groups to gather all events created to highlight Women’s History Month. In our use of “women” we recognize that gender is complex. We are all more than just our gender - we are comprised of intersecting identities that are grounded in history and our lived experience that goes beyond the gender binary. We celebrate this month because of the past and present existence of systemic gender oppression that impacts women  as well as others who exist differently regarding the gender construct. The involved in the creation of Women’s History Month are Women*s Student Services, the LBGT Resource Center, Prevention Outreach and Education, GenCen, TransAction, Womxn’s Council, Alliance, Transcend, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, ASMSU, James Madison College, Womxn of Color Community, Undergraduate Research, and the Work Life Office. All of these offices, departments and groups came together to create programming for all Spartans to celebrate the history of womxn, and we hope you will join us at some of the events listed above!

All of the events are held by different offices across campus. If you have questions about a specific event, please contact the office hosting that event.

Links to our events can be found here

Join Women*s Student Services on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 6 PM EST for Crafternoons and Communitea! We will be making friendship bracelets. Hope to see you there!

Along with all the staff of Student Affairs & Services, the staff of WSS is currently working remotely. We are available to meet virtually one on one via Zoom. To sign up to meet with either Heather (Director) or Gabby (Graduate Assistant), please click the links below.

To meet with Dr. Heather Shea, click on this link to go to her You Can Book Me Page to sign up for a time slot.

To meet with Gabby Wahla, click on this link to go to her You Can Book Me Page to sign up for a time slot.
At Michigan State University, items such as condoms and toilet paper are free and widely accessible. But period products are not. This budgeting choice is discriminatory, and Pad the Mitten is collecting names and emails of MSU students to show support for their bill that will be proposed to ASMSU. If you support their cause, please fill out this form.

Please join the Writing Center beginning February 4, 1-2 PM EST for the Writing Center and Access: A Speaker Series. The series will include topics that will be very helpful to students and faculty in their research. 



The Queering Racial Justice Summit is a vital two (2) day opportunity for students to come together to discuss the deep connections between racial justice and LGBTQA+ justice. The summit offers session rotations on inclusive leadership, White supremacy, allyship, and more. Throughout the two-days, there will be raffles for prizes, keynote speakers, and the opportunity to connect with other students to coalition build an action plan.
Sign-up TODAY! 
The Queering Racial Justice Summit is Friday, March 12th, and Saturday, March 13th! More details to come!
Jennicet Gutierrez
Trans Liberation: In the Fight for LGBTQ Rights and Immigrant Rights
March 4, 2021 at 7pm

Save the date! On March 4 from 7-8:30 pm, organizer Jennicet Gutiérrez will be holding a Zoom lecture, sponsored by the LBGTRC, James Madison College, Chicano/Latino Studies, MSU Law Diversity and Equity Services Office, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, JMC Latinx Unidos, Stonewall Society, and Comparative Cultures and Politics.
Password: JMC
For Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31st, the LBGT Resource Center is hosting their first annual virtual Research Symposium! Check-in throughout the day and listen to talks from student researchers on trans and nonbinary gender identities in various fields of study. Their schedule of events and keynote speaker announcements are coming soon! The call for proposals from undergraduate, graduate, and professional students will remain open until March 8th at

Join COGS and Recreational Sports and Fitness Services for an evening yoga class to relax after a stressful few weeks! Monthly Yoga sessions are offered free of charge for graduate & professional students. The next session is on February 11th! See RSVP link below to register and receive link.  Invite your friends! All you need to participate is an open space, water, and a towel/mat.

  COGS 2021 Yoga Series:

6:45 pm- 7:45 pm EST via Zoom

March 11

April 8

RSVP Link  

This semester My Spartan Story is offering workshops for students and Registered Student Organizations (RSOs)! Please see above for the workshop dates/times. Click on the image to sign-up and learn more information!
The Family Affinity Group (focusing on parents and caregivers of children and teens) has meetings the second Thursday of each month from 12-1pm via Zoom. This is a place for Spartans to connect on family related topics with the goal of connecting, building community, and sharing best practices regarding raising or caregiving for children and caregivers. ​The topic for February's meeting is "How to Talk to Your Children About Race," and the topic for March's meeting is "Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Children."

What is an Affinity Group?

“An affinity group is a group of people linked by a common interest”.

Family Affinity Group

Every 2nd Thursday of the Month

12pm-1pm via Zoom

Password: family

March 11thAvoiding Power Struggles with Your Children Featuring Jon Novello from MSU Employee Assistance Program

The Adult Caregivers Affinity Group (focusing on caregivers of adult/elders) has meetings the fourth Thursday of the each month from 12-1pm via Zoom. This is a place for Spartans to connect and share information on topics such as how to start conversations on living situation changes, higher levels of care needed, caring for yourself as a caregiver, and making a home safe for a senior. 

What is an Affinity Group?

“An affinity group is a group of people linked by a common interest”.

Zoom link: 

Password: caregivers


Women's Leadership Insitute and Go For The Green Financial Literacy Team Present:
Empowering Stories: Women in Leadership, Business, & Finance 
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
                                           REGISTER TODAY
This semester, MSU Center for Survivors will be providing various virtual groups via zoom listed below.

Community Connect
Community Connect is a drop-in support group on Wednesdays from 12-1 focused on building community & fostering connections among fellow survivors. Questions? Email Christie at  or Kimmins at Interested? Fill out this quick form

Healing Through Yoga!
Healing Through Yoga is a drop-in trauma-sensitive yoga practice to promote healing and wellness. Classes begin January 28th  and will be held on zoom on Thursdays from 1-2 PM. To register, fill out this form  and email with any questions!

The Next Chapter
Center for Survivors presents “The Next Chapter” Book Club. We'll be reading Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski. Grab some coffee or tea and join us from 3pm-4:30, beginning Tuesday, February 9th, to learn more about how to ‘turn the page’ on your own burnout! Books will be provided. Registration Link:

Support survivors, learn more, and receive updates about MSU Center for Survivors by following their Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.
Beyond the Binary: A gender identity spectrum support group.

This is a safer space for support for undergraduate and graduate students who are exploring or identify as transgender, gender fluid, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming.

Potential topics of discussion include challenges of coming out to self and others, identity development, limitations of labels, negotiating gendered environments, identity-affirming relationships, coping with minority stress and gender binary norms, accessing supportive health and social services, aspects of transitioning process, and adjustment to social identity, family dynamics, and impacts on wellness, needs and impact of being closeted, being TGNB at MSU.

All meetings will be held weekly via Zoom.
Registration required. Contact Ginny Blakely at for more information or to register.
Begins Jan. 28, ends April 22
Day/Time: Thursdays 3:30–5 p.m.
Facilitator: Ginny Blakely & Mike Evitts
Location: HIPAA Compliant Zoom
Empower U

Empower U is a virtual space for LGBTQIA+ graduate and undergraduate students of color to support and empower one another. Some themes of the group include relationships, self and community care, values exploration, intersectionality, self-compassion, family dynamics, navigating cultural expectations, and building resilience. All meetings will be held weekly over Zoom.

Group screening required. There will be a brief screening to see if the group is a good fit for you. For pre-screening, complete the CAPS Phone Request form and indicate your interest in Empower U.  Contact Olivia Scott at for more information.

Begins Jan. 22, Ends April 30
Day/Time: Friday 1–2 p.m.
Facilitator: Olivia Scott & Victor Leon
Location: HIPAA-compliant Zoom

*You can still join after the start date!
Gender Identity and Attractionality (GIAA) Undergrad

This support group for LGBTQ+ (including questioning) undergraduate students will address life and relational issues related to romantic and sexual attraction, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Topics are based on student interests and may include: exploring identity & identity development; trust and connections; dealing with heterosexism, cissexism, internalized homophobia and/or transphobia; dating and dating technology; attraction and romance; family dynamics; faith and identity; balancing academics with life; and intersectional identities. All meetings will be held weekly over Zoom.

Group screening required. For more information, screening, and registration, contact Victor Leon at The Zoom link will be given upon registration.

Begins Jan. 26, ends April 30
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2–3 p.m.
Facilitators: Ginny Blakely and Victor Leon
Location: HIPAA-compliant Zoom
Gender Identity and Attractionality (GIAA) Grad

This support group for LGBTQ+ (including questioning) graduate students will address life and relational issues related to romantic and sexual attraction, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Topics are based on student interests and may include: exploring identity & identity development; trust and connections; dealing with heterosexism, cissexism, internalized homophobia and/or transphobia; dating and dating technology; attraction and romance; family dynamics; faith and identity; balancing academics with life; and intersectional identities. All meetings will be held weekly over Zoom.

Group screening required. For more information, screening, and registration, contact Victor Leon at The Zoom link will be given upon registration.

Begins Jan. 27, ends April 21
Day/Time: Wednesdays, 2–3:30 p.m.
Facilitators: Ginny Blakely and Victor Leon
Location: HIPAA-compliant Zoom
The Prevention, Outreach, and Education Department is hiring Peer Educators for the 2021-2022 Academic Year! 
Applications close on March 1, 2021!
Save the date for the 2021 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF)!!! UURAF will take place between Thursday, April 15th and Monday, April 19th and will be hosted on a virtual platform. Abstract submissions will be accepted from January 12 to February 11, 2021. For more information about registration visit:

MSU Student Affairs and Services have more than 20 scholarships available for undergraduate students. The deadline for most of these scholarships is March 8, 2021. For more information and to apply, visit the MSU Student Affairs and Services scholarship page:


If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Vanwelsenaers at

Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) Updates:

Beginning March 17, as a COVID-19 preventive measure, CAPS offices at Olin Health Center, MSU Student Union, and the Neighborhoods will be closed.

CAPS counseling and psychiatry staff will work remotely to help meet the needs of MSU students.

  • Established patients with scheduled appointments will be offered phone or Zoom sessions. Patients will be contacted and given instructions.
  • All group counseling services have been cancelled. Group co-leaders will reach out to students to discuss alternative options, such as phone consultations.

Patients needing a prescription refill prior to their next appointment can use the MyMSUHealth patient portal to make the request:

CAPS Phone (517-355-8270) will be set to a voice prompt with 3 options: (Press 1) To talk with a crisis counselor, (Press 2) to leave a message with the CAPS Nurse which will be responded to within one business day, or (Press 3) for general messages.

CAPS Connect sessions and Outreach Services are canceled through the spring semester.

Community Health Concern Information:

For students with health concerns and more information on COVID-19:

Students who are struggling to meet basic needs should reach out to the Greater Lansing Food Bank (

Students experiencing mental health crisis can  MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (517-355-8270).

About Women*s Student Services
Student Life: +1 517-355-8286
Voicemail: +1 517-432-7556

Contact us!
Director: Heather D. Shea, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)
Graduate Assistant: Gabby Wahla  (she, her, hers)

Visit us in the fall!
Interactive Campus Map
make a donation to WSS

Women*s Student Services (WSS) is committed to:

  • fostering inclusive conversations that explore topics of intersectional feminism

  • building collaborations and coalitions with other student services offices and other departments on campus,

  • supporting all students in working toward an empowering and equitable community for women-identified students at MSU, and aligning with the Division’s quality standards of being respectful, responsive, and resourceful.

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