The Associated Student Government Diversity and Inclusion Committee said it would not press for the impeachment of ASG Vice President Michaela Todd for fear of violating Todd’s First Amendment rights and risking exposing the university to a lawsuit during last night’s meeting.
The call for her impeachment came after Todd made a political Facebook post before last week’s midterm election that used the phrase “illegal alien.”
The post endorsed Kris Kobach for governor, and said he would “put Kansans first, not illegal aliens.” It was initially a public post, made on Todd’s personal Facebook account. Todd later deleted the post.
“The members of senate sat down last night with Kevin Johnson and another local attorney,” said Ariana Williams, junior chemistry major. “They didn’t give us official legal advice but just from their years of practice what they had seen. Our biggest fear right now is if we, as a senate, move forward to impeach her, we’re going to be hit with a lawsuit.”
Williams said she sympathized and understood what undocumented students were going through based on her own personal experiences.
“Unfortunately as a committee we had to come together and say, within our power right now, we can’t move forward with impeachment,” Williams said. “It is protected by freedom of speech and as much as we hate it, as much as it sucks, (and) as awful as it is, we sat down with attorneys and it is protected. “
The committee received backlash over their statement released yesterday in which they stated that for the personal safety of the committee, they would no longer ask for Todd’s resignation or for her impeachment.
Kim Nguyen, chair of the diversity and inclusion committee and art therapy counseling graduate student, had to leave less than a minute into the meeting because she was crying and couldn’t read her documents.
“I can’t do it,” Nguyen said.
Williams and Caylie Ratzlaff, junior English and social sciences education major, led the rest of the meeting and said they wanted to hear from students about how the committee and ASG could better represent them.
“The fact that Michaela Todd is not present speaks to her character,” said Kara Dubois, junior psychology major. “How is she going to represent us if she can’t even show up?”
More than 40 students, a faculty member and five administrators, including Lynn Hobson, dean of students, and Jim Williams, vice president of student affairs attended the meeting.
“It feels like you have given up on the diversity and inclusion in this community,” said Peyton Gould, junior accounting.
In their statement, the committee said they “did not intend to make Vice President Todd feel isolated in her community,” which Dubois said she wanted to talk about.
“Especially the phrase ‘she was isolated,’” Dubois said. “I mean, the irony of saying that she was isolated because of her statements and the fact that she was isolating a group of people that are already isolated because they are minority students.”
Kayla Gilmore, senior political science, also said their private social media profile was circulated and they received several hate filled messages through social media.
“My identity is on a public format, on a Youtube video, that has over 100,000 followers and got over 51,000 views in less than 24 hours leading to my Facebook profile that is now being circulated,” Gilmore said. “I didn’t have my name drug through the dirt for us not to impeach.”
Todd, senior communication and political science major, came during the last five minutes of the meeting.
“I had meetings that I had already made arrangements to,” Todd said. “I was unable to make it. I would have been, if I could have.”
The committee also passed a resolution to remove the terms “illegal” and “illegal alien” from the university’s marketing and media, according to Ratzlaff.
The resolution passed five in favor and zero against.