Standing up for individuals’ rights to show support for the pro-police Thin Blue Line and refusing to condemn the symbol as “racist” has one student government senator at Rochester Institute of Technology facing possible impeachment, The College Fix reported this week.
After Jacob Custer, an RIT senior and Student Government College of Liberal Arts Senator, denied that the Thin Blue Line was a symbol of “overt racism,” 21 other student government members signed a petition calling for the student senator’s impeachment.
The petition stemmed from a conversation that occurred in a student government group message about filing a bias report against a school safety officer who wore a Thin Blue Line facemask.
Screenshots of the group message that were included in the petition showed that after one of the representatives suggested pressuring the school’s administration into moving “blue lives matter out of the ‘free speech’ category and into the ‘overt racism’ category,” Custer argued such a move would violate free speech rights.
“Just simply because you (and others) are moving a point of view that you may disagree with…into a category to suppress that idea is not being virtuous or being on a higher moral ground,” he wrote. “It is rather showing intolerance to other views other than your own,” adding that labeling the Blue Lives Matter movement as racist is “wholly ignorant.”
“What about all of the cops of various colors serving? Are they racist because they are cops?” he asked. “If you and other[s] believe that anything that can be viewed to oppose Black Lives Matter is racist is also ignorant and illogical. It is a false dilemma fallacy.”
Custer went on to say that relabeling the Thin Blue Line was not the role of the student government, and to do so would be “outright censorship.”
Another unnamed representative then accused Custer of attempted “to tell someone of color…when something is or isn’t racist.”
“When it comes to my blackness, I’m not going to let someone who isn’t of color try to tell me whether something is racist or not,” the unnamed representative said, adding that a safety officer in a Thin Blue Line mask would make them feel like the officer was “about to shoot me.”
“YOU may not feel that way because guess what, that’s your White male privilege,” the message continued. “I’m not sitting here and telling them not to wear [it] but don’t wear it around me, plain and simple.”
Custer continued to defend his position, noting that “ideas transcend all race, class, economic level, sex, creed, religion, ethnicity,” before adding that he would supports Blue Lives Matter and “standing by the idea of free speech as a whole.”
According to the petition, Custer disrespected fellow senators with “numerous unpleasant exchanges of words,” as well as “first-hand experiences.”
“These actions include, but are not limited to, negative attitudes towards members, blatant disregard of the effects of controversial topics such as Blue Lives Matter and how it affects the Black and Brown community, and blatant disregard for anyone’s views,” the petition stated.
The impeachment petition alleged Custer’s words and actions were “not in the best interest of his constituents, Student Government, and the RIT Community.” The group further alleged that Custer has repeatedly failed to properly represent his constituents and the Student Government, making fellow members uncomfortable and his constituents feeling neglected.
“Student Government’s mission is to represent the interests of the student body through the implementation of innovative programs, services, and initiatives that enrich student lives,” the impeachment petition stated. “This letter is intended to bring awareness to multiple accounts where Jacob Custer goes against the mission of Student Government, specifically going against the initiatives that enrich student lives on RIT’s campus.”
A second petition supporting Custer has accumulated over 200 signatures, but the student senator said he anticipates impeachment proceedings will begin during the first week of next semester.
“The process is still ongoing and the hearing on the impeachment grounds will be soon,” he told The College Fix. “I fear I will face repercussions simply because I stood for free speech, and I knew of such consequences on a liberal campus, but I believe such fear is something other students should not have to face in a disagreement.”