The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate passed a statement backing congressional efforts to impeach and convict former President Donald Trump for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol building during the governing body’s first meeting of 2021.
Wednesday night, the USG Senate voted 17-3 in favor of the legislation that condemns white supremacists and Capitol riot participants and calls on the university to defund the UConn Police Department and restore the Connecticut Commitment. Five senators abstained from the vote.
Undergraduate senators said that they hope this declaration will foster inclusion and empower students of color.
“This organization has a moral obligation to support the impeachment of Donald Trump considering that there are students of color on this campus who feel unsafe and who have felt unsafe under his presidency,” said Darren Mack, USG senator and co-author of the statement.
“What would it say to students of color across campus if we were to stay silent on this issue?” Mack added. “[…] It’s often said that USG is far too safe on taking a stand on things and that we try to play both sides of the fence, and I don’t think that’s really acceptable here.”
A few senators voiced concern over whether USG should take a stance on the impeachment trials, a political issue not all students agree upon, and if this legislation would set a future precedent that USG could support or condemn politicians.
In response, senators agreed that while USG should never endorse a specific candidate, the senate’s condemnation of Trump’s incitement is necessary. Senators also pointed out that USG has denounced other illegal behavior in the past.
“People want unity, but we cannot have unity without accountability, and our nation as a whole deserves to see that happen,” said Senator Sarah Hill, who co-authored the statement. “So yes, we as USG, representing all the students on campus, should be making that statement and taking that position.”
In addition to the former president, the legislation demands that officials hold public figures who “engaged in the spread of misinformation and incitement” accountable, as well as Capitol Police “both by its leadership and its officers who appeared to support the rioters.”
The statement also criticizes University leadership for their response to the insurrection.
“USG condemns UConn for issuing only an email response to the Capitol riots and calls on them to take definitive action to show their support for all students of color,” the legislation reads. “USG calls upon the administration to evaluate whether and how it is an accomplice to or an active combatant of the white supremacist conditions in which it exists.”
Later in the night, USG unanimously passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis in Connecticut in collaboration with the UConn chapter of PowerUp, an activist group that addresses racial inequality. The legislation aims to pressure Connecticut lawmakers to recognize structural inequities and declare racism a public health crisis at the state level.