The following editorial originally stated that Gloria Schindler is an Off-Campus Rep. She is a Rep-at-Large. The Nexus regrets this error.
Despite their desire to “create a safe space,” some members in Associated Students Legislative Council seem to have a nasty habit of automatically jumping the gun and defining others with reputation-damaging labels like “racist’ and “homophobe.”
At last week’s meeting, the Council spent three hours accusing attorney general candidate Michael Lambright of having extreme prejudice. His crime? He wrote a column to the Daily Nexus last year criticizing a Finance Board allocation that according to some, including Finance Board Chair Nick Szamet, had violated A.S. rules because it limited the amount of male attendees and was thus not fully open to the student body. The event funded by the board, the Black Pioneers Renaissance Organization’s annual Women of Color Appreciation ceremony, took place on a boat in the harbor and only allowed the women and 15 males associated with the group to attend.
Yet, rather than focusing on Lambright’s main argument regarding rules and procedure or his qualifications, some council members took his statements out of context and focused on a remark he made in which he implied that the council cares less about rules and more about politics and social justice issues.
Initially, one can understand why some council members were sensitive to this allegation and perhaps Lambright could have worded his column less aggressively. Yet, Lambright clearly does not appear racist or homophobic when he later clarifies his statement and writes in the same column that “money be spent on events that the student body is actually allowed to attend without consideration to race, religion, gender or sexual preference” (Leg Council Breaks Promises to Students,” Daily Nexus, May 15).
All these select members in the council needed to do was ask Lambright how he felt about racial and queer issues in order to get a better sense of his mentality. Instead, they made assumptions and publicly slandered him for three hours. In one instance, Rep-at-Large Gloria Schindler threatened her dissenters (“A.S. Shoots Down Candidate Over Alleged Bias,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 11).
“I see a white, heterosexual male,” Schindler said. “If you’d like to say you are an ally, it’s your role and responsibility to listen to people of color and queer people.”
An interesting remark, considering Lambright is of Cuban descent. Nevertheless, such reactions pose a very dangerous approach to debate. Essentially, Schindler’s argument is: You either agree with us or you are a racist. This disables the possibility for fair and civil discourse.
All Lambright did was question A.S.’s adherence to their own policies. He did not deserve the character assassination he received at last week’s meeting. Such attacks, including one that alleged he had an “anti-A.S.” bias, only further the stereotype that A.S. is afraid of being questioned or held accountable.
Additionally, this is a stereotype A.S. should begin worrying about given the fact that its own Finance Board overturned its funding rules twice in the same meeting last week.
The Council frequently invites outsiders to join their organization, but it appears that some members are against having a diversity of ideas. Lambright deserves an apology and although some members said they were open to having Lambright join A.S. through other means, why would he ever put himself through such a vilifying ordeal again?