University of Houston student Rohini Sethi was suspended for creating an “All Lives Matter” Facebook post of unity after the Dallas police shooting. The law enforcement officers were assassinated during a Black Lives Matter protest in July, sparking Blue Lives Matter banners to wave across the country.
“Forget #BlackLivesMatter;” Rohini Sethi, the University of Houston Student Government Association Vice President, said. “More like All Lives Matter.”
Sethi’s post was deleted not long after it was posted to Facebook — but not before the social media comment went viral on the Texas campus and was viewed by most of the student body.
— zepblackstar (@zepblackstar) August 1, 2016
University of Houston minority students groups lambasted Rohini Sethi’s all lives matter post as being an example of hate speech, deeming her words, inflammatory. The student leader receives a stipend from student fees, the Washington Post reports. The campus minority organizations also stated the Facebook post was unbecoming of a student leader.
“I would never want her to have to experience the fear I have every day that my brother could die during a traffic stop, but it is something that as a representative of me that I expect her to understand,” University of Houston Black Student Union President, Kadidja Koné, said. “For her to say on her social media ‘forget Black Lives Matter,’ it’s almost as if to say if all of us were to die tomorrow, she wouldn’t care.”
The student body vice president ended her Facebook post with the hashtag, #LetsTalkUnity.
“Her post and subsequent actions were very divisive,” University of Houston student body President Shane Smith, said. “It caused some in our student body to become very upset with her. They lost faith in her ability to represent them because they felt that she did not understand or respect the struggles in their lives.”
Shane Smith deemed Sethi’s social media post, “ignorant,” according to ABC 13 News.
The University of Houston all lives matter post became a controversial topic on the campus. Minority student groups demanded Rohini Sethi either resign or be removed from her student government position.
The young woman who exercised her First Amendment rights and was attempting to express support for the grieving law enforcement community became a target of hatred both online and on campus. The #RemoveRohini hashtag was created amid the heated debate over the Facebook post.
Shane Smith was given the authority to sanction Rohini Sethi during a recent student government meeting. He supported requests to suspend Sethi, who offered to take a 3-day cultural sensitivity workshop.
“UH SGA has made its decision. I disagree with the sanctions taken against me by my SGA because I believe I have done a great deal to better understand the controversy I caused. I have also apologized for my words because no student should feel as though I do not have their best interests at heart. Even so, I will abide by the sanctions for as long as they are in place,” Rohini Sethi said after the suspension was handed down.
— Dan Maxwell (@DMMaxwell2) April 1, 2016
Koné also said some minority student groups wanted to meet with Sethi after the suspension but stated some students are not comfortable with her retaining a position of leadership on the campus.
“As of today, African American students do not feel welcome, comfortable, represented, valued or even acknowledged at the University of Houston,” a statement from 100 Collegiate Men, an organization for black students, read. “Students at the University of Houston want to feel adequately represented. They do not feel that this is being accomplished as long as Rohini Sethi is in office.”
In Rohini Sethi’s Facebook post after her suspension, she also said she was elected to student government to represent all students on the campus. She added her intention is still to advocate for every University of Houston student.
“Visually we are black, white, tan, and a hundred shades between but we are all human, thus I believe that all lives matter. Let’s all come together through conversations to reach unity. This is how we begin to set the standards for ourselves and our future, especially in times of adversity,” Sethi said.
“My response [to the Dallas police shooting] has caused enormous pain for many members of our community, and I think it is high time that I clarify my statement. I hope to embrace language that binds us together rather than language that singles some out. This is the perfect opportunity for us to rediscover each other, to learn about who we are, and what our experiences have been.”
What do you think about Rohini Sethi’s all lives matter Facebook post and the decision by the University of Houston to suspend her?
[Image by AP Photo/Eric Gay, File]