Student gov prez pressured to resign over anti-Semitic tweets

The student body president at the University of St. Thomas could potentially lose his leadership role after a series of glaringly anti-Semitic statements were discovered on his Twitter feed.

Canary Mission, a self-described database for exposing “those who promote lies and attacks on Israel and the Jewish people,” recently unearthed a trove of anti-Semitic Tweets linked to Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President Mayzer Muhammad’s Twitter account, one of which described the Israeli people as “scum of the earth.”

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“If you support Israel in anyway [sic], shape, or form, please unfollow me right now cause [sic] those people are scum of the earth,” Muhammad wrote in July 2014, after his freshman year at St. Thomas, later writing that same day that “the yahood (Jewish people) will get what [sic] coming for them Insha’Allah.”

Barely a month later, he shared a Facebook video of Irish Senator David Norris saying that the Holocaust is a “rag” that needs to be “torn away,” according to Canary Mission, which uncovered at least 14 other posts of this kind from 2014 to 2016, though Muhammad has since deleted his Twitter account, citing an “influx of nasty and negative comments” against him as his reason for doing so.

In fact, in a statement published shortly after the ominous Tweets were exposed, Muhammad wrote that he has been “constantly harassed” by Canary Mission and called the “attacks levied against” him “Islamophobic.”

When asked by Campus Reform to provide evidence for his claims that he has been “constantly harassed,” he pointed to a single August 2016 Tweet from Canary Mission, saying, “all the harassment that [he] received was via Twitter where the Canary Mission would incite their followers by Tweeting out that [he] was an anti-Semite.”

Shortly after the tweets were brought to light, St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan released a statement on the matter in which she “strongly denounce[d]” Muhammad’s remarks, though she did not elaborate on any potential consequences he may face besides noting that USG has “a clearly defined process when the actions of a leader are called into question.”

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“The student government is taking this situation very seriously and is seeking input from the student body,” she wrote, explaining that “their governance policies have a clearly defined process when the actions of a leader are called into question.”

Accordingly, Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment on what precisely these “clearly defined” processes are and whether or not Muhammad would be reprimanded for his actions.

“The president’s statement is clear. I encourage readers not to re-interpret it in any way. Our student government prides itself on being transparent, inclusive, and representing the student body,” Director of Public Relations Janet Swiecichowski responded, advising Campus Reform to review “their processes” posted on the “student government webpage.”

Of the documents listed on USG’s webpage, though, only the constitution mentions disciplinary procedures involving the student body president, simply stating that “in the case of a violation by the president, the executive vice president and USG advisors shall review the issue.”

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Campus Reform contacted Muhammed himself for further elaboration on how precisely the student government is handling his case, though he did not respond to any follow-up inquiries.

Notably, St. Thomas’s Undergraduate Policy Book seemingly prohibits the sorts of comments made by Muhammad, both in its “Statement on Offensive Behavior” and its “Policy on Hate Crimes and Bias.”

“Harassment of an individual or group of individuals based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, creed, religion, socio-economic status, physical or mental disability is an attack on the very fabric of the institution itself,” the policy book declares, explicitly listing “the display or circulation of written materials or pictures which are offensive to either gender or to racial, ethnic, or religious groups” as an example of a violation.

Consequently, an anonymous petition has been launched calling for the removal of Muhammad “from his position as president of the undergraduate student body” or “expulsion from the University of St. Thomas for his anti-Semitic behavior,” though the petition only had 32 of 100 signatures at the time of publication.

Meanwhile, St. Thomas Professor of Law Robert Delahunty criticized Sullivan’s response to the issue in a recent blog post, saying he “would have expected a firmer and clearer response from Dr. Sullivan to her student government leader’s anti-Semitism.”

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“In crossing the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, Muhammad also crossed the line between what is tolerable in our community and what is not,” he argued. “In these circumstances, we would have expected the swift, decisive, and unequivocal repudiation of Mr. Muhammad’s remarks from the UST administration.”

Sullivan’s and Muhammad’s responses can be read here and here respectively, and Campus Reform will continue to update this story with any developments.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski

This article has been amended since its initial publication; though Canary Mission published dozens of screenshots of Muhammad's social media posts, not all of them were anti-semitic. The wording in this article has been updated.