The first legislative council meeting since last quarter’s decision, and subsequent veto, to ban the American flag from ASUCI’s meeting drew further public comment about the representatives who approved the legislation. Additionally, council members voted to commemorate and recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Support was strong for the six council representatives who faced vitriolic comments following the legislation’s approval.
Representatives presented statements of support from student organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine, DREAMs at UCI and American Indian Student Association.
Insisting that the focus was no longer on the flag or the legislation, students drew attention to the threats of violence that the representatives faced.
Celine Qussiny, an SJP representative, criticized chancellor Gillman’s response as coming too late after the attacks had started.
“Chancellor Gillman basically invited a lynch mob to this campus,” she said.
“Administration did absolutely nothing for these students,” said Naaila Mohammed, a fourth-year student.
Edgar Dormitorio, student affairs chief of staff, said that the administration did actually take steps to provide support to the representatives who came under attack.
“We also made proactive offers of support and assistance for the individual Legislative Council members, including: personal outreach from their advisor; support services from the Counseling Center and a social worker; and, assistance from the UCI Police Department, which shared its officer’s cell phone number and contacted the students’ hometown police departments.
In addition, we removed the students’ contact information from the public university directory and worked with Facebook and Twitter to remove or hide threatening posts, within their community standards,” he said in an email.
Sitara Nayudu, former ASUCI president, presented a statement on behalf of alumni in support of the executive cabinet’s decision to veto the legislation. A prepared statement from the alumni urged the campus community to move on from the incident in order to shed the negative publicity it generated.
During the meeting, ASUCI executive president Sanaa Khan criticized the alumni for trying to protect UCI’s reputation rather than addressing the threats that the representatives received.
Mike Flores, president of the Veterans Fraternity at UCI, also called on administration to provide support for the six representatives.
Although the fraternity’s official statement characterized the legislation as “good-hearted but perhaps misguided,” it also asked for an end to the hostility in favor of a meaningful dialogue.
“The idea of challenging what the flag means is a healthy process too,” he said. For Flores, the students’ conflicts with what they described as American imperialism and colonialism via the military isn’t unfounded.
“Some veterans would even go on to say that there is a ring of truth to their line of reasoning. The war on terror carries painful notions of betrayal of the government against veterans by providing outright lies about the reason for invading Iraq, gross administrative mismanagement that instigated violence and a trust broken by not providing adequate healthcare to returning veterans. It all stinks of imperialism, colonialism and a war of aggression,” he said in an email.
After public comment regarding the flag resolution subsided, council unanimously approved a legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
“As the centennial of the Armenian Genocide is coming up, we realized what better time than now to make students aware of the atrocities that occurred 100 years ago and to make them aware of our history and our story,” said Kristine Jermekian, an Armenian student who gave a presentation on council about the history of the genocide.
Currently, the Armenian Student Association is working closely with the humanities department to raise awareness about the centennial as well furthering the field of Armenian studies.
CSU Northridge and Long Beach passed similar resolutions last month. The student governments of UCLA, UC Riverside and Berkeley have also passed similar legislations.
Armenian Genocide Awareness Week, hosted by ASA, is set to take place during Week 4, with events running Apr. 20-23.