Op-Ed: The free speech movement is a waste of time, so let’s put our students first (and actually do our jobs)

The Undergraduate Student Government office. Per the USG Constitution, “The Comptroller shall oversee all financial matters of the organization and shall ensure that all expenditures of the Undergraduate Student Government are in accordance with Undergraduate Student Government policy and any applicable laws and regulations.” Photo courtesy of Eric Wang/ The Daily Campus.

Darren Mack is a current Senator of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG).

I am Darren Mack and I am a Senator in USG. I had told myself initially that I wouldn’t entertain USG’s “Free Speech Movement.” However, my mind has been changed due to the recent bullying of our newly elected Chief Diversity Officer B Diaz. The internal strife within USG is not indicative of the work that we do. This situation has caused valued individuals within USG to resign and created a sense of disillusionment within our community. Our very own President introduced this idea and still has his name on the legislation, in spite of the Governing Board’s recent vote of no confidence against him and the majority of the Senate’s disapproval with the movement itself.  

I will not belabor points already made in previous articles, though I will point out one thing. In order to boost their cause, they have posed as champions of the BIPOC on this campus. However, it is telling that BIPOC everywhere have come out against this piece of legislation and given very valid reasons as to why it is harmful. Rather than take this valuable criticism into consideration, they have moved forward regardless of our concern, as if the White male leadership of this movement knows better than the BIPOC on campus. We do not need these White men to speak for us. They’re doing this for themselves under the guise of supporting BIPOC. As White men they’ve never had their voices diminished but instead, theirs have always been at the forefront. The BIPOC on campus are not your “White Man’s Burden.” This is what I think of when I see these performative infographics which claim to champion BIPOC on social media. It is tone deaf and insulting that they continue to be divisive regardless of the pain that has been caused. 

This legislation is symbolic of USG’s insider politics and public decay. In the end, it really gets absolutely nothing done. We are given free speech through USG’s Constitution and its Bylaws. It is redundant and created only because certain individuals did not get the outcome they desired in last month’s emergency Senate. The criticism levied towards USG is not unfounded and I say that as a Senator myself. We need to be out on campus working with students and pushing tangible initiatives to serve our UConn community. I charge the individuals pushing this legislation, as well as my colleagues in the Senate, to evaluate how they are truly acting in their roles as leaders and how they are using their time. Let’s get some actual work done for students. I came to USG because I truly believe that it could be the ultimate platform for advocacy at UConn. In the future, let’s put our students first, rather than our own petty ambition.  

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