Mike Hernandez, president of the University of Connecticut’s student government, is being accused of supporting white supremacy due to his recent veto of a senate resolution that called on the university to defund its police department.
In addition to serving as president of UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government, Hernandez is the vice president of the Connecticut Young Democrats and an Hispanic immigrant.
The resolution, titled “A Statement Denouncing the Capitol Riots and white Supremacy,” sought to reaffirm the body’s commitment to “empowering and supporting all students of color,” established that the undergraduate student government “supports efforts to impeach and convict Donald Trump,” and called on the university to defund its police department. It also contained criticisms of white supremacy and the events that occurred on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
According to Hernandez, he vetoed the resolution because he believes the Undergraduate Student Government “must remain a nonpartisan organization” and that calls to defund the police are “inextricably tied to partisan politics.”
He also stated that it is not “appropriate for this organization to take any stance on the pending trial of former President Trump” as the trial was also “tied closely to partisan politics” and called the assertion that there was an “abject failure and derelict of duty by the US Capitol Police” in the resolution “an insult to the sacrifice and bravery of the many officers who held the line on that fateful day.”
In his statement regarding the veto, Hernandez also denounced white supremacy and the violence at the capitol, concluding by stating that he was open to working with the Senate to draft a new resolution.
The Undergraduate Student Government’s “Chief Diversity Officer,” Damani Douglas, expressed support for the veto.
Hernandez’s actions sparked criticism from other members of the student government. One senator said that by vetoing the bill, Hernandez was “[vetoing] a call against white supremacy.” Another senator called the veto “a step backwards” going on to say that she didn’t understand why they were “debating a veto to make a statement denouncing white supremacy and the capitol riots.”
Darren Mack, also a senator, said “this veto is indicative of what is wrong with this organization,” accusing UConn’s student government of hiding “behind the safety shield of nonpartisanship” while “the lives of people of color are on the line.”
Some senators, however, agreed with the veto.
In a statement to Campus Reform, Senator Edward Zelikman expressed support for Hernandez’s actions.
“What’s happening in our student government is a disgrace and he’s trying to fix it,” Zelikman said in reference to the resolution and its subsequent veto.
“Rather than doing anything that will be of value to our student body,” Zelikman continued “many of our senators have decided that the UCONN senate should be used to impose their political views upon everyone else on campus. We need to get back to what actually matters and that starts with eliminating partisanship.”
Zelikman told Campus Reform that the reason his colleagues in student government want the university’s police department defunded is because they believe the officers at the capitol restrained themselves because the rioters “were mainly white” which makes them racist and deserving of defunding according to the student senate.
Of this, Zelikman said, “you can find more leaps in this logic than you would at a pole vaulting competition.”
“That’s mainly because everyone knows that defunding police doesn’t actually help communities. It hurts them,” he continued. “The real reason for supporting such a ridiculous movement is political.”
Ben Gladstone, another individual associated with the student senate, also agreed with Hernandez’s veto.
Gladstone reached out to Campus Reform and stated that “I feel the extreme partisanship exhibited by USG severely threatens the moral authority of the organization, and that defunding the UCPD is not necessary but reining in UCPD cooperation with the UConn administration when investigating non-criminal acts is important.”
Ultimately Hernandez’s veto was overturned by the Undergraduate Student Government with a vote of 24-12-1.
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