Student leaders who didn't 'proclaim that Black Lives Matter' face impeachment

Students and alumni of the University of Kansas are coming to the defense of three student government executives who are facing impeachment on charges that they were not sufficiently enthusiastic in their support of a student-led diversity ultimatum.

Student Body President Jessie Pringle, Student Body Vice President Zach George, and Chief of Staff Adam Moon are all facing demands that they resign by Wednesday or face impeachment proceedings after the Student Executive Committee voted 6-3 Friday in favor of a no-confidence vote against them, according to Huffpost.

The pressure on Pringle, George, and Moon came just two days after Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little moderated a forum at which a student organization called Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk presented a list of diversity demands that included hiring a team of “multicultural counselors” for students of color and instituting “mandatory, intense ‘inclusion and belonging’ training” for students and faculty.

During the no-confidence proceedings, the Committee specifically claimed that Pringle and George did not "stand in solidarity with their black peers and proclaim that Black Lives Matter" during Wednesday’s forum.

Student senator Shegufta Huma, though, told Huffpost that the vote was not directly precipitated by the officers’ reluctance to endorse the diversity demands, but rather was the culmination of months of frustration at their failure to address racial issues in general.

“This is part of a larger pattern and some much bigger issues that (the) Senate has been dealing with in terms of our relationship with marginalized communities at KU,” she asserted.

The petition supporting the executives, which had collected 566 online signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, acknowledges the legitimacy of racial grievances at the university, but argues that impeachment is not the proper response.

“Last week’s campus forum made clear that students of color are ignored, alienated, harassed and targets for racially-motivated violence in all corners of the University … however, the means by which students and student officials are taking to counteract these terrible atrocities on campus are anti-intellectual, anti-free speech, and an ineffective way to advocate for change,” the petition states. “Change must occur through conversation, however difficult or ugly it is.”

It then claims that impeaching officials “because of a difference of opinion … sets a terrible precedent for future democratic processes,” and urges those who have differences with the executives to pursue their removal through the democratic process.

“Together, we must find solutions now that allow our school to combat racism and better serve the needs of students, staff, and faculty of color” the petition concludes, reiterating that “pursuit of these solutions begins with conversation, not forcing resignations.”

According to The Lawrence Journal-World, Pringle, George, and Moon released a statement Saturday morning declaring their intent to continue serving despite the no-confidence vote, setting up a formal vote by the full Senate Wednesday evening.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @FrickePete