The Texas State University student government president faces calls for his resignation and an impeachment push from angry students after a series of his racist and sexist Instagram posts surfaced this week.
Texas State senior Connor Clegg apologized for several posts from 2014 in which he made derogatory comments about Asian tourists during a trip to Europe and used hashtags such as #gottheirass and #pearlharborwasbad.
Student activists, who had previously clashed with Clegg over issues of race and free speech, plan to submit a petition Monday to school administrators seeking Clegg’s removal from office and plan to initiate impeachment efforts in the student Senate.
In an interview with the American-Statesman, Clegg apologized for his “foolish comments,” saying he had rarely been outside of his insular, small hometown near Houston when he traveled to Europe before enrolling at Texas State four years ago.
“I had no idea about the beauty of rich diversity,” he said. “I’ve learned to value these other cultures and worked to expand my horizons here at Texas State.”
It’s the latest racially charged episode at Texas State, which has been the regular target of neo-Nazi hate groups, who have hung banners across campus buildings and distributed racist flyers numerous times over the last year.
The school is also struggling with issues of free speech after the student newspaper published an opinion column against “whiteness” that President Denise Trauth blasted as racist. As student body president, Clegg threatened to defund the University Star, which is paid for with student fees, if the column’s author, Rudy Martinez, and his editor did not resign.
Martinez was later fired by the newspaper’s editorial board.
The petition against Clegg, initially launched in December, claims he has “displayed adamant disrespect and disregard for the struggles of our undocumented students and students of color” and has threatened the “free speech of the only student-run newspaper on campus.”
Clegg said Friday he would not resign and that he does not fear an impeachment attempt. “I can tell you right now they do not have the votes,” he said.
Trauth said in a statement Friday that she first learned of the posts Thursday and that “I am hopeful that his apology truly reflects (Clegg’s) sentiments.”
“I have said before that racism in any manifestation is abhorrent,” she said. “We expect our students to uphold the university’s core values of diversity, inclusion and unity – especially our student government leaders.”
The statement was met with frustration from student activists who said Trauth needed to take a stronger stand.
“Her response was so passive and inadequate to so many students,” said senior Tafari Robertson, founder and former president of the school’s Pan African Action Committee. “Many people who may not have been involved have really galvanized behind it. Some are even calling on her to step down.”
Clegg also took issue with Trauth’s statement that social media posts he wrote in 2017 were racist. “It’s a little bit defamatory,” he said. “I may have to look into that.”
Martinez began publishing Clegg’s social media posts on his Facebook page Thursday morning, using the hashtag #impeachclegg and writing, “Besides several instances of racial insensitivity, he’s also a firm enemy of free speech on our campus.”
Texas State spokesman Matt Flores said Trauth does not have the authority to remove Clegg from office, but she could hear an appeal if he is impeached.