The vice president of the Student Government Association at the University of Houston has received a punishment from the student senate for her Facebook post criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.
After posting to her Facebook page: “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter,” student body vice president Rohini Sethi was suspended from the SGA for 50 days and is temporarily banned from participating in group activities. She must also attend a diversity workshop, as well as three cultural events per month. In addition, she is required to write a reflection letter and make a public presentation to a senate meeting to be held on September 28.
If she fails to meet any of these requirements, Sethi could lose her position in the student government, writes Craig Hlavaty for Chron.
A statement has been released by the University of Houston making it clear that the punishments Sethi received came from the SGA and were not handed down by the university itself.
“Actions by SGA, a registered student organization subject to its own governance, are not University actions and do not affect the academic standing of a student at the University of Houston. The University of Houston continues to stand firm in support of free speech and does not discipline students for exercising their Constitutional rights,” the school stated.
Sethi was criticized for the online comment in early July by many students at the school who called her statement incredibly offensive and hateful, causing her to quickly apologize for the comment and take it down. “Just for her to say, ‘forget Black Lives Matter,’ is a punch in the stomach,” student Nala Hughes said.
The comment was made the night of the shootings that occurred during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas that saw five police officers killed and nine more wounded. In the days following her posting, #RemoveRohini was trending in Houston, writes Cleve Wootson Jr. for The Washington Post.
UH Student Government Association President Shane Smith announced soon after that Sethi’s comments were not the official position of the SGA.
“SGA believes that the diversity of our student body is what has led to our success as a university. While we value each other’s differences, there are racial injustices throughout our country that prevent true equality. We all need to work together to be part of the solution.”
A number of students at the school have asked for the removal of Sethi from the SGA. However, the student government constitution requires that in order for Sethi to be impeached, the student body president, president of the student senate, and three-fourths of the present student senators must approve the decision. At that point, Sethi would be tried by the student supreme court, writes Blake Neff for The Daily Caller.
Rather than going through this process, the student senate approved of a one-time measure that would give SGA president Smith the power to hand down a punishment to Sethi. Smith said that the punishment was particularly harsh because he did not believe she understood the severity of her comment and how it affected the reputation of the university as a whole.