UConn Student Body President Under Fire for Supporting Free Speech

Protest
Bebeto Matthews/AP

The student body president of the University of Connecticut (UConn) has fallen under fire by his peers in student government over his support of pro-free speech legislation on campus.

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Governing Board recently issued a “vote of no confidence” for student body president Mike Hernández over his support of a proposed free speech bill, according to a report by Daily Campus.

The legislation in questions seeks to protect the right of students to freely express their opinions within student government and at the university as a whole.

This concept, however, is facing backlash on campus, as other USG members believe the legislation will give students “a free pass to express casual racism, homophobia and misogyny without consequence,” the report added.

“Over the past several weeks, President Hernández has acted in a manner unbecoming of the office he holds, which has manifested in an apparent inability to understand the impact that his actions have and a disregard for the concerns repeatedly brought to him by those he leads,” said UConn’s USG in a statement.

Hernández has reportedly also been facing backlash after a private comment he made to a fellow student came to light, in which the student body president likened the legislation to treating minorities like children.

“We specifically reject the assertion that protecting minorities is akin to treating them like children,” continued USG in its statement “We reaffirm our sentiment that the best way to promote inclusion is to condemn racism, antisemitism, sexism, and all other forms of bias and discrimination.”

Brittany Diaz — a candidate for the upcoming chief diversity officer election, as well as one of Hernández’s critics — expressed her approval of USG’s recent vote of no confidence for the student body president.

“I believe it is the responsibility of the student government to hold our president accountable,” said Diaz. “This was long overdue but much needed. I am happy to see that a statement was released.”

This is not the first time Hernández has been attacked by his peers after expressing benign views.

Last month, the student body president was accused of supporting “white supremacy” after vetoing a resolution that called on the university to defund the campus police.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler @alana, and on Instagram.

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