At the University of Houston, student body vice president Rohini Sethi has been suspended by the Student Government Association for a Facebook post she made following the July 7 shootings of law enforcement officers in Dallas, which left five dead and nine wounded.
In the post, Sethi wrote "Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter.”
“All Lives Matter” has been suggested as an alternative slogan by critics of the Black Lives Matter movement. President Barack Obama made a statement in defense of the slogan, reports Think Progress:
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I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase ‘black lives matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter. Rather, what they were suggesting was, there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.
After Sethi’s post generated immediate controversy, she deleted it and apologized. However, opposition to the post grew fast among the student body, with #RemoveRohini rapidly trending in the days after the posting, culminating in the SGA’s decision to reprimand her.
In a statement to the University of Houston newspaper, The Daily Cougar, SGA President Shane Smith said: "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."
In addition to Sethi’s 50-day suspension, which begins Aug. 1, she must attend a diversity workshop, three cultural events per month, write a “reflection letter,” and make a presentation to the SGA’s Senate Meeting on Sept. 28, reports KTRK. If she fails to meet the demands, she could lose her position in the student government, notes the Houston Chronicle.
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On Aug. 1, the University of Houston released a statement explaining that the actions taken by the SGA are independent of the university itself. As cited by the Chronicle, the statement said: “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.”