Free speech is under attack on college campuses across the nation, with the latest casualty having occurred right here in Texas. A student government leader at the University of Houston has been disciplined for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement online, and the University’s leaders are doing nothing to protect her civil rights.
Shortly after the July 7 shooting in Dallas that killed five police officers, Rohini Sethi posted a statement on Facebook criticizing the movement that some say intentionally inflames racial tensions with police.
Promoting the value of all lives might seem totally non-controversial, but Rohini’s statement was apparently too much for Houston’s coddled university students to bear.
Undoubtedly feeling that Rohini’s “micro-agression” had invaded their “safe space,” U of H students demanded Rohini apologize and be punished for her failure to censor herself.
And Rohini did, in fact, apologize. But her apology wasn’t good enough for a number of students on campus. “Rohini’s excuse for an “apology” is completely unacceptable,” tweeted the university’s Black Student Union. Students outraged by Rohini’s #AllLivesMatter comment began pushing the tag #RemoveRohini on social media.
The aspiring bureaucrats in the UH Student Senate heard the #RemoveRohini outcry, but initially appeared limited in what actions they could take by the body’s governing documents.
Of course, the rule of law was no match for a modern anti-speech witch hunt.
The student senate convened an “emergency” meeting to find a way to punish Rohini for her speech. By the close of the meeting, the student senators drafted and passed SGAB-5304, a retroactive bill giving the student body president unilateral, one-time authority to sanction Rohini for her comments.
Empowered by SGAB-5304, U of H Student Body President Shane Smith released a letter Friday outlining a set of five punishments for Rohini including:
- A 50-day suspension from SGA starting August 1. This suspension will be unpaid (she currently receives a stipend of $700 per month).
- A requirement to attend a three-day diversity workshop in mid-August.
- A requirement to attend three “UH cultural events” each month from September through March, excluding December.
- An order to write a “letter of reflection” about how her harmful actions have impacted SGA and the UH student body
- An order to put on a public presentation Sept. 28 detailing “the knowledge she has gained about cultural issues facing our society.
Because the University of Houston is a state institution and Rohini is being punished by having a financial benefit denied to her, she may be able to sue the university for violating her civil rights.
“Setting aside the mockery these students have made of the First Amendment and the rule of law, they may have subjected their university to a lawsuit,” commented Empower Texans General Counsel Tony McDonald. “Regardless of what phony student government process is involved, the fact remains that Rohini was entitled to a stipend and is having it taken away because the university doesn’t like what she has to say. At a state university that is governed by the US and Texas constitutions that is not acceptable.”
Not all of the students have joined in the frenzy to punish Rohini for her comments.
“It’s absolutely disgusting how Rohini has been treated by certain members of the student body,” UH SGA Senator Will Simpson told Breitbart Texas on Saturday. “Free speech is essential to a free society, which includes protecting unpopular speech. #alllivesmatter includes African American lives.”
Universities across the nation and across Texas are becoming laboratories of totalitarianism where students see nothing wrong with punishing their classmates for speech the PC police deem offensive. What’s more, students appear dumb to the concept that retroactive and special laws are forbidden.
Why is common sense left up to a lone dissenting student senator? Where are the adults? Why are the University of Houston’s leaders, including UH President Renu Khator and UH System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta allowing their students to make a mockery of the First Amendment?
Kator and Fertitta have an obligation, as leaders, to remind students that this type of behavior is not acceptable in Texas. They should act now before a lawsuit ends up getting their undivided attention.