USG has recently been criticized for failing to protect the free speech of its members and for failing to protect minorities from bias. At a first glance, this seems confusing. However, USG is one of the most misunderstood organizations and it seems to have adopted failure as its governing doctrine.
I was sworn in as a senator in the spring of 2019. Most freshmen come into college with idealistic and bold plans to change the world. I hoped that my position would increase the representation of STEM majors, allowing people with similar interests as me to have a stake in student government.
I was in for a harsh reckoning. The first vote I participated in was about compensating the President, Vice President, Comptroller, Speaker, and Chief Justice for their time. This eventually led to increased pay and the expansion of compensated positions such as committee and subcommittee directors later on. As more money flowed into the pockets of those involved in USG, it gradually became more corrupt. Those in charge of hiring would give newly hired students paid roles with limited responsibility and little specified work.
There were unintended consequences to creating these newly paid positions. Paid positions now forced many in USG to be held accountable. Don’t get me wrong, accountability is not a bad thing. It means challenging those who have power (or in this case paid positions of authority) to do their jobs. However, dissenting and having freedom of conscience does not deserve hate. Against what many extremists claim, they do not hold “hate speech” accountable. They use intimidation and threaten people to submit to their agenda. Since USG leaders were now being paid, they had something to lose if they did not please extremists. Many in USG hope to attain these desired paid positions and are forced to agree, to prevent attempts at removal, public shaming, or exclusion.
It gets worse. As USG gave more legislative power to outside activist groups, debating and constructive conversations ended. Activist groups do not seek compromise, instead demanding obedience. These activist groups pressure senators and other paid leaders to follow their agenda, or they run the risk of being canceled or falsely tarnished as “white supremacist,” “homophobe,” or “sexist.” That is why free speech has become a controversial issue, rather than something everyone is committed to.
From the forceful resignation of Josh Crow to the vote of no confidence of Mike Hernández, these extremists will not stop trying to destroy every single person until the entire USG top to bottom is completely filled with their authoritarian ideology. Currently, the Speaker of the Senate and other governing board leaders add in arbitrary roadblocks on certain pieces of legislation (like the current free speech legislation, which the Speaker threatened to disallow on the senate floor) to curb the fear of being criticized by activist organizations.
Although USG President Hernández was voted against in a non-binding vote of no confidence, most of the people who voted against him apologized in private for their shameful actions.
Circling back to accountability, where this all started. The only way to end injustice is to speak out against it, that’s the reason for free speech. One should call out lying, shameful hypocrites. Many, especially those in the aforementioned yearned for positions, regularly ignore discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry despite claiming to do so on their social media.
There has been consistent racism, homophobia, and bigotry in the messages of those opposing our legislation, which I’m sure will be soon exposed on social media. This reveals a troubling double standard on campus. These same ‘supposedly’ anti-racist senators don’t mind or think twice when writing bigoted comments toward our first immigrant USG president.
USG recently added a Chief Diversity Officer post over the summer, with the sole purpose of striking down any self-accountability by bringing critics into, well… inquisitions.
Underlying this are two fundamental truths. One, USG is full of people willing to cave to mob-like activists and who fail to hold anyone’s bad behavior accountable. And two, these activists holding USG and the rest of campus hostage are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They’re the ones who are actively spouting homophobic, racist, sexist hate. By not calling this out and upholding everyone’s right to speak freely without harassment USG has adopted a doctrine of failure.
University of Connecticut Class of 2022
Mechanical Engineering Major and USG Senator