Student candidate denied position after opening speech with Bible verse
Mya Little was reportedly denied a student government position for opening a speech with a Bible verse.
Student government members reportedly accused Little of being biased.
A Student Government Association (SGA) candidate at the University of Houston (UH) was recently denied a position with the SGA Supreme Court seemingly due to her religious beliefs.
On June 29, UH student Mya Little attended her school’s SGA meeting in hopes of earning the position of SGA associate justice, UH student newspaper The Cougar reported.
Little read a verse from the Bible in her opening speech, a decision that sparked conflict in the room over whether she had “latent bias” that would influence her court decisions.
Little attempted to defend herself, stating that “[s]o long as respect is being exchanged between one another, I don’t feel like opinions need to be labeled as biases.”
The defense, however, had little impact, and Little was subsequently asked to leave the room so SGA could debate the matter in privacy.
During this discussion, SGA members expressed concerns over Little’s religious beliefs, with Senate Speaker Aryana Azizi emphasizing “the heightened concern around religious influence in government in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade”, according to The Cougar.
Ultimately, Little was unable to obtain enough votes and was prevented from becoming the first Black woman to serve in her desired position. According to The Cougar, this “came as a disappointment to several SGA members.”
SGA Senate Speaker Aryana Azizi spoke with Campus Reform about what occurred during the meeting, along with her reaction to how the debacle transpired.
“There was some initial tension in the room,” Azizi told Campus Reform, “but I want to commend my administration for treating one another with respect after the debate has ceased.”
When asked if UH’s SGA supports individuals’ First Amendment rights, including religious liberty, Azizi responded, “Freedom of Religion is absolutely protected by SGA and furthermore the University of Houston.”
Azizi’s responses, however, appeared to conflict with her statements during the SGA conflict as reported by The Cougar.
In that report, Azizi was quoted saying, “I personally think it’s a little bit tone deaf given the current political climate. I don’t think now is the time to be preaching about religion given the clear lack of separation of church and state in our federal government.”
When asked for comment, Chris Stipes, Director of Media Relations at UH, was quick to emphasize that the university supports its students’ First Amendment rights.
“UH is committed to fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged, First Amendment rights are protected, and constructive discourse is not only protected but encouraged,” Stipes told Campus Reform.
He went on to say that “[d]ifferences of opinion are the natural byproduct of such discourse, and UH remains committed to the principles of free and open expression.”
Stipes also explained that UH does not intervene with SGA-related issues.
“The SGA is a registered student organization and subject to its own governance. The UH administration does not intervene in the SGAThe organization is truly ‘of the students, by the students and for the students.’ The University and its SGA adviser encourages the organization to work within its governing documents to navigate any issues that arise.”
Campus Reform reached out to UH SGA and Mya Little for comment, but did not receive a response.
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