Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Student senate hopes to move forward after alleged hate crime

Posted on December 10, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

Julie Pike, Free Press Staff

The Student Senate at USM has made recent changes, with over 10 new senators being voted in, after anti-Muslim graffiti was discovered several weeks ago in the student government office in the Woodbury Campus Center

The Student Senate experienced some backlash after allegedly trying to cover up what is being investigated by the university as a hate crime. In turn, the senate is beginning to see some changes Several senators had been asked to step down or have resigned voluntarily.

The senate is now starting to move forward from the incident, with new members hoping to represent USM’s diverse campus.

Liam Ginn, the newly elected vice chair of the Student Senate, stated that he wanted to get involved because he wanted to try and make USM a more diverse and accepting environment for all students.

“I hope to bring a strong and charismatic presence to my fellow students and senators to help us all move forward as a united student body,” Ginn stated. “I want students at USM to feel comfortable around people of all cultures.”

Another student new to the senate, Aaron Pierce, feels strongly about having a more diverse group of students on the Student Senate to better represent USM’s student body.

“This is going to take a senate of people from different races, faiths, gender, sexuality, backgrounds and different views to come together to form bridges on campus,” Pierce stated.

The new members of the Student Senate are passionate about creating a welcoming environment for all students at USM.

“I spent the last five years in the Navy working with people from all walks of life, I want to see that same team spirit and group cohesion here at USM, united against bigotry and hate,” Ginn stated.

The Student Senate is now filled with 20 senators, stated Student Body President Humza Khan.

“The senate took this opportunity to bring new people into the fold,” Khan stated. “Folks that are committed to helping students and have a clear record as far as senate incidents are concerned.”

With assistance from Khan and his office, the senate will also be holding sensitivity training every semester. The first one took place Friday, Dec. 9.

Apart from the new training, the new members of the senate have goals of their own. They look to create a more unified school, especially after the anti-Muslim graffiti incident.

“This is going to take a lot of work, cleaning house, and changing the culture with the senate, which is not an overnight process,” Pierce stated. “It will take working together and respecting one another to get the reform done. In order to put change and reform on campus we need to work to reform ourselves.”

One new senator, Nickolas Acker, stated that he wanted to get involved because he thought certain demographics within the student body are underrepresented  in the Student Senate.

“As a conservative at USM I’m part of a small community that sometimes feels wary of expressing their views on campus out of fear of being ostracized or ganged up on,” Acker stated. “If I can represent those who feel they don’t have a voice, I will have done something right.”

Acker suggested how he feels the Student Senate should move forward after the anti-Muslim graffiti incident incident.

“The senate needs to create a forum where students can voice their concerns about alleged Islamophobia, homophobia or any other type of discrimination,” Acker stated.

Acker feels hopeful about the new group of senators that have been voted in. He stated that they are all passionate about improving all students’ experiences  on campus and listening to their concerns.

We need to change the culture at USM to one where students see themselves as a community, support one another, and where student can feel as comfortable as being home,” Pierce stated. “It is up to us, the senate, to do these changes and I feel we can do so.”