UH student govt sanctions VP for saying ‘all lives matter’
Student government leaders at the University of Houston (UH) have ordered their student body vice president, who was denounced for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement, to attend diversity training or face impeachment.
Student body Vice President Rohini Sethi posted “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter” on Facebook hours after a gunman killed five police officers at a BLM inspired rally in Dallas, Texas.
Sethi’s comments created a firestorm of controversy on Facebook and Twitter in the UH community, leading to a #RemoveRohini movement that demanded the attention of student government leaders.
Seeking reassurance that she wouldn’t criticize the liberal movement or multiculturalism again, the UH Student Senate voted Wednesday to allow student body president Shane Smith to sanction Sethi, The Daily Cougar reports.
The final draft of the bill, passed 13-2 with one abstention, was discussed for less than 15 minutes, though debate on a specific resolution placing Sethi on suspension lasted two and a half hours. Students lined up to speak against Sethi at the meeting.
Sethi is required to attend a three day Libra Project diversity workshop in August, is suspended from office for 50 days starting August 1, must attend three cultural events each month, and write a reflection letter and present herself to the Student Senate on September 28.
Wording in a working draft of the bill stated that she could only end her suspension by offering student government leaders a “detailed plan on inclusion.” Interestingly, five days were apparently added to her suspension between passage of the bill and an official announcement by Smith Friday.
Sethi will be kicked out of office if the demands aren’t met.
“Failure to attend the workshop and/or have a detailed plan, will be grounds for impeachment,” the resolution states.
Smith released a statement detailing his negative opinion of Sethi’s actions.
“I am aware of the first amendment [sic] arguments that some have made,” Smith wrote. “Yes, Rohini had a right to say what she did. Identically, students also have that same right to voice their complaints. The first amendment [sic] prevents a person from being jailed by the government for what they say. But the first amendment [sic] does not prevent people from receiving consequences for what they say, including workplace discipline.”
Houston’s student government constitution dictates that Sethi would lose her stipend if she is gone from her duty for over three weeks.
The Libra Project workshop’s event description promises to cover a variety of diversity issues facing college students.
“Race relations. White Privilege. LGBTQ rights. Islamophobia. Antisemitism. Gender inequality. Racial profiling. ‘Harmless’ off-color jokes. Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter. School to prison pipelines. Personal responsibility versus institutional oppression. Bias. Prejudice. Discrimination. Aggression.”
One senator, Paul O’Brien, feared that the legislative body had willingly given up too much of its power to Smith.
“We just gave him the one-time power to fire the only person in that office that could tell him no, which could last a day or the entire administration,” O’Brien said. “[The Senate has] power and we just got undermined.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @RiersonNC