Before I begin, I want to make clear that this has been a living document since the beginning of December. Since then, it has evolved as more events have occurred and as I have become more and more aware of the necessity of this article.
It took nine days for USG to produce any commentary on the insurrection at the capitol, and I think that perfectly highlights the problems with the organization: an ultra-political hesitancy and, due to that, an apathy for the feelings of its constituents. This article will be split into two parts, the first being the incident that led me to resign and the second being the current situation that only furthers the need for more public scrutiny of USG.
The event that led me to quit occurred during the last senate session of last semester, when one of my fellow senators made an antisemitic comment. It was a very offensive and very factually incorrect appropriation of the Holocaust, and while I was angry, confused and hurt at the time, I’ve realized since then that my anger should not have been targeted at him. While what he said was extremely offensive, I know now that he did not know what he was saying, and I forgive him for the most part as he’s expressed regret. What I cannot forgive is the silence of everyone else in the call. The statement was made in front of over 50 people, and not a single person spoke up to say how wrong it was. As it happened I felt incredibly small, betrayed even, and worst of all I knew that I was not alone in this pain. In my three-month tenure as a senator, I had seen events like this multiple times before, and each time a horribly prejudiced comment was made, the silence of USG gave it validity and power.
USG has a culture problem, plain and simple. In my tenure from October to December, I witnessed racism, sexism, antisemitism and ableism alongside presidential overreach and potential nepotism. I thought this was enough to write a whole article about, but then this week all of the ugliness of USG seemed to rear its ugly head.
This Wednesday, a piece of legislation calling for UConn to condemn Trump’s incitement of the insurrection and white supremacy passed the senate. It then went to USG President Hernandez’s desk, who decided to veto it without warning or conversation with the authors of the legislation. His reasoning was that he was working to keep USG nonpartisan, and he couldn’t support a call for the conviction of Donald Trump, or the mentioning of the Defund UCPD movement. Well, the first one has no merit, as taking a stance against a decision made by the students is about as partisan as one can get. The second is referring to a movement that’s based on previous legislation USG is in official support of, but the current USG administration and certain senators have taken repeated issue with. Despite continuous majority support for it, certain individuals have dragged people through the mud for hours of conversations on the topic. If the president wants to pretend that he has the best interests of the students in mind, but then chooses to support the continual effort to invalidate a student movement, he must eventually realize his hypocrisy and accept how partisan his actions have truly been.
As of writing this, on Friday, Jan. 29, the president stands by his veto, and Chief Diversity Officer Douglas supports it as well. They are in direct opposition to what their responsibilities are, to advocate for the undergraduate students of the university, and by taking a partisan stance they are disrespecting the hard work of senators who are trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
The next step in the veto process is for the bill to go back to senate, and an emergency senate meeting has been called for next Wednesday, Feb. 3. If you are a USG senator, I urge you to vote to overturn the veto. If you are not, I urge you to share this article, and come to the senate on Wednesday at 6:30. It’s open to the public for a reason, and this is a matter that deserves the public’s scrutiny.