UNO student government files Articles of Impeachment against senator over racist comments

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Leta Lohrmeyer
EDITOR IN CHIEF

 

A UNO Student Government senator had Articles of Impeachment filed against her on Tuesday due to alleged violations of the Code of Ethics.

UNO sophomore and College of Arts and Sciences senator, Esme Rodriguez, sent messages in a group chat which contained racial slurs, including the N-word, and remarks towards the African American community. Screenshots of those messages were published on Facebook on Monday, that post is now deleted.

“The language used in these messages were racist, and completely unacceptable and inexcusable,” said UNO Student Government in a Facebook post. “There is zero tolerance for these kind of remarks, and the act of promoting enmity and hatred for selfish gain.”

On June 2, the Articles of Impeachment were filed against Rodriguez on the grounds of malfeasance and violations of the “good faith representation” stated in the Student Government’s Code of Ethics. 

Photo courtesy of UNO Student Government.

The Code of Ethics states that the Student Government reserves the right to monitor members’ social media and its content must be in good taste and not include illegal acts, degrading language towards others or derogatory language in violation of the non-discrimination statement.

According to the Student Government bylaws, the Articles of Impeachment must be approved by two-thirds majority vote of the Student Senate. If it is approved, there will be a scheduled trial where “conviction by a simple majority of all Student Court Justices present and voting will result in the immediate vacancy of the office of the impeached officer.”

The Student Senate plans to meet on June 5 at 7 p.m. to vote on the impeachment.

Rodriguez commented on the now deleted post, apologizing for the remarks in the group chat. She said that it was over-the-top “like a comedy roast,” but the statements don’t reflect how she actually feels.

“I take full responsibility and will accept the consequences,” wrote Rodriguez. “These are not matters to joke about or considered humor. I will step down from leadership roles immediately”

The Gateway has attempted to reach out to Rodriguez for comment without response.

On Wednesday afternoon in an email sent to all UNO students, Daniel Shipp, the Vice Chancellor for Student Success, said that numerous people have called to bring attention to the comments made online.

Vice Chancellor of Student Success Daniel Shipp’s email on the matter. Photo courtesy of Daniel Shipp.

“As heartbreaking as these racist comments are to hear, they also increase our resolve to live the Maverick value of inclusion—by calling out and speaking out against racism, division, and injustice,” said Shipp. “In the end, the answer to racist, hate speech is more speech. Speech that lifts up the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Shipp said that these matters are being taken seriously and they are in the process of following up with reports received.

At the end of the email, Shipp said he encourages UNO students, staff and faculty to fill out a report form if they see or experience racist, bigoted, biased and prejudiced activity on campus.

UNO Student Body President and NU Regent Jabin Moore declined to comment on the filed impeachment. Moore wrote on Facebook about the situation, where he thanked those who brought the issue to his attention.

“This was an incredibly shocking and offensive display of closeted racism and should be a reminder to all who have prejudice in their heart to take a deeper look within and address the hatred that you hold,” wrote Moore. “It can not be ignored or dismissed. From now on CALL IT OUT! Whether you think it’s a joke or not, it is not acceptable. By denying racism you are actually supporting racism. Learn to be an anti-racist. Please.”

To find resources, students can contact the following:

Office of Multicultural Affairs
mca@unomaha.edu
402.554.2248

Counseling and Psychological Services
402.554.2409

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