Student gov impeaches senator who defended Blue Lives Matter, but the fight is far from over

The student government senate at Rochester Institute of Technology voted to impeach a member who defended Blue Lives Matter.

Citing possible violations of the free speech policy, RIT's president will form a review panel to investigate the senate’s decision.

The Student Government Senate at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York has voted to impeach an elected member following a petition formed against him for defending the use of a thin blue line mask.

As Campus Reform previously reported, the petition to impeach Student Government Senator Jacob Custer was formed in regards to a conversation about an RIT public safety officer. The officer was wearing a “thin blue line” mask and other student government members wanted to file a bias report, according to the screenshots of the chat.

When student government members began discussing a ban on thin blue line masks Custer responded, saying “just simply because you (and others) are moving a point of view that you may disagree with into a category to suppress that idea is not virtuous or being on a higher moral ground. It is rather showing intolerance to other views other than your own.”

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This resulted in 21 members of the student government signing the impeachment petition, which has since been made private. The counter-petition “Do Not Impeach Jacob Custer” is still available and cites the RIT Free Speech Policy.

The President of RIT, David Munson, sent out an email shortly after acknowledging the senate’s outcome. “We felt strongly that it was proper and necessary for the Student Government to follow and complete the process outlined in their Student Government Bylaws,” the president explained. “However, the question of whether the decision may have violated university policy C.11, protecting free speech and expression, has been raised.”

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Custer explained in an email to Campus Reform that he “is able to keep [his] position as of now since the RIT Office of the President decided to review Student Government’s decision to impeach.”

According to the announcement from the president, Custer’s senate seat will be determined by the Review Panel that is assembled by Munson.

In a previous interview, Custer encouraged his university to “protect the freedom of speech of students, staff, and its community.”

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Munson expressed a similar view in his email, stating that “colleges and universities are ideal settings for the open and respectful discussion of controversial issues. We comprise a learning community, and much of our learning comes from one another. Respect for different opinions must be a cornerstone of our campus community, even when we strongly disagree.”

Members from the RIT Board of Trustees will make up the president’s review panel, according to his statement.

Student government members did not respond to requests for comment.

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