Student senators voted against a resolution intending to formally condemn a retweet Student Body President Niya McAdoo made last week that said “death to America” at a full Senate meeting Wednesday night.
The resolution’s authors argued that Senate’s governing document — the Student Senate Rules and Regulations — requires the student body president to represent all students. When McAdoo retweeted the statement on the student body president Twitter account, it didn’t speak for how all students felt, they said.
But those who opposed the resolution said McAdoo’s retweet represents their experience in the United States.
“I didn’t quite understand how the authors decided to go forth [with the resolution],” University Affairs Committee Chair Faith Lopez said in an interview after the meeting. “It was presented by someone who needed to reconsider what this means and what it means for women and women of color on campus, and the violence that can occur because of it.”
Martín Vazquez, one of the holdover senators from last year, authored the resolution because there were student voices that wanted to be heard, he said to senators.
“[The resolution] wasn’t to create hostility towards anyone or any party involved,” Vazquez said. “It was simply to address a concern students were having.”
During the tense three and a half hour discussion, senators heavily questioned why Vazquez pursued to do something so formal, especially because some of the senators didn’t agree with the messaging behind it.
“Whether or not you agree with the sentiment expressed, it is our responsibility to ask why someone might feel this way,” Policy and Development Director Arianna Chavarria said while giving a speech against the resolution. “America, especially KU, is not innocent of the violence of racism. There is still a lot to be done.”
By the end of the meeting, senators voted against the resolution. Of the 40 people who voted, 22 senators voted “no.” Thirteen senators voted in favor of the resolution, with five abstaining.
After McAdoo retweeted the tweet days ago, a number of racist messages flooded through Twitter, their student body president email and other avenues.
McAdoo shared some of the messages on Twitter Sept. 14, stating, “No explanation. I just want y’all to see this for what it is.”
No explanation. I just want y’all to see this for what it is. pic.twitter.com/hDypzYsCAc— KU Student Body President ✨ (@KUPresident) September 14, 2021
“[The responses] showed how Black people continue to be demonized for sharing their authentic opinions of how they see this country,” McAdoo said in an interview with the Kansan. “This America that I’m living in is not a good one.”
Every officer said they stood in solidarity with McAdoo during their reports. Former Student Body President Tiara Floyd – the first Black woman to be Student Body President - also sent in a letter standing with McAdoo.
“I cannot ignore the intertwinings and patterns this body exudes when it comes to racism and other harms against other Black women,” Floyd said in the letter. “Instead of condemning Niya, why not stand up for her?”
McAdoo received messages of support from many KU organizations, including the KU Young Democrats, OneKU, the GTAC union and an open letter signed by KJHK executive members. Kansas House Representative Christina Haswood also gave support to the president.
“This country was built off of genocide of Indigenous Peoples and the enslavement of African Americans,” Haswood tweeted. “A horrendous history in America we strive everyday to not repeat.”
After the vote, McAdoo said they were not only grateful for their staff but proud they stood in solidarity.
“At the end of the day, we work as a team together,” McAdoo said after the meeting. “Even if there were conflicting arguments, people still showed their support.”