More than 100 students rallied Monday night at Texas State University, calling for the ouster of Student Government President Connor Clegg at a raucous meeting of the student Senate.
Student groups, including the Pan African Action Committee, said Clegg should be removed from office after several of his old Instagram posts surfaced last week with racist and other offensive comments.
“Tell me, Connor, how can I trust you as my president?” said Emmy Orioha, president of the Pan African Action Committee. “I’m telling you to do what’s right or have every single student here continue to come out.”
Dozens of students carrying signs with messages such as “Don’t defend racism” chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, Connor Clegg has got to go,” before the student government hearing began.
After being addressed by mostly angry students over nearly two hours, Clegg said he would announce whether he will step down within a week. “I didn’t come here tonight to talk, I came to listen to all of you,” he said. “Again, I’m sorry. I’ve taken everything you’ve said to heart.”
Student leaders said they would pursue Clegg’s impeachment through the student Senate if he doesn’t step down. Clegg had previously told the American-Statesman he would not resign and that he didn’t think his opponents had the votes to force him out.
The heated student government hearing comes as Texas State University grapples with more than a year of racially charged incidents. Since the November 2016 election, Texas State has been targeted by neo-Nazi hate groups that have hung banners across campus buildings and distributed racist flyers on a regular basis. The school is also struggling with issues of free speech and last week hosted a Texas Senate committee hearing about free speech on college campuses.
Several students of color said at the hearing they feel unsafe on campus after dark because of the threatening flyers. One woman told student leaders she carries a boxcutter when walking home.
Many students also directed their ire at Texas State President Denise Trauth, who they say hasn’t adequately addressed the white supremacist groups targeting the campus. “Impeach Clegg, impeach Trauth, impeach Trump,” one student cried out at the hearing.
A small number of speakers and student representatives spoke out in Clegg’s defense.
Clegg had previously clashed with student activists and the University Star after the newspaper printed a column on “whiteness” that Trauth called out as racist. Clegg threatened to defund the student paper if the column’s writer and editor did not resign. Columnist Rudy Martinez was later fired by the newspaper’s editorial board.
Last week, Martinez published Clegg’s offensive Instagram posts on his Facebook page.
Clegg apologized for his “foolish comments” on Instagram made while traveling in Europe before enrolling at the school.
“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.”
Over the weekend, flyers and graffiti targeting Clegg and Trauth were found on campus, according to the University Star. In one flyer, a photo of Clegg and Trauth was edited with the label “Racist” over Clegg’s eyes and the word “Enabler” over Trauth. A spray-painted message on a campus building read, “President Trauth Supports Racism. Step Down,” before it was covered up.