By: Charles Hilu
Several members of the University of Michigan student government “liked” an Instagram post endorsing violence against members of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter.
The Dec. 5, 2021, post obtained by the New Guard was liked by nine total members of the Central Student Government, which oversees student affairs of all smaller schools within the university. The members included the CSG Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Chief of Staff.
“Socialism is when you beat up YAF members in the Fishbowl” wrote Ashvin Pai in the caption of his post, referencing a common area on campus. Pai resigned from CSG in late 2021.
CSG Speaker Annie Mintun, Deputy Speaker Joe Lobodzinski, Rep. Karthik Pasupula, Rep. Alex Nguyen, Rep. Maddie Fox, Rep. Phoebe Yi, Rep. Labiba Qazi, Rep. Major Stevens, and Chief of Staff Grace Roberts all liked Pai’s post.
“Trying to encapsulate my shock and disappointment with a quote is difficult because I am not surprised whatsoever,” YAF UMich Philanthropy Chair Grace Young told YAF.
“As a fellow student, I am both shocked and saddened that there are those in the campus community that seek to implement ideological uniformity through threats of physical violence and harassment through social media,” said YAF UMich Treasurer Duncan Goodman.
“The image,” Goodman continued, “shared by a former representative of the central student government and digitally supported by several current members has left me feeling isolated and unheard on campus. I hope they reconsider.”
Multiple members of the YAF UMich chapter told YAF that they were once mutual followers with Pai, but they saw they were blocked by his Instagram account when the post was brought to their attention.
“I think it nearly goes without saying that members of student government should not implicitly support violence against any of their constituents,” U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts Student Government President Tyler Watt told YAF. Watt is a college-level representative in CSG.
“Political divides aside,” Watt continued, “we’re at this institution to dialogue across differences and try to understand our peers’ backgrounds better. Endorsing violence against others in the name of a political ideology is doing nothing to help bridge divides.”
The members who liked Pai’s post should face consequences, up to and including impeachment and removal, so long as they are given the chance to defend themselves, he said.
“There have been CSG members who have lost their positions over lesser matters. If the shoe was on the other foot, and it was a conservative member calling for violence against socialists, then I don’t think CSG would have any problem acting against that to the extent of removal,” said Watt.
YAF reached out to Pai, the nine CSG members who liked the post, the CSG board, and the University of Michigan Public Affairs Department, but has yet to receive any responses.
Conservative students must advocate for their views everyday in an environment that is severely hostile to them. It is alarming when those charged with representing them endorse violence against those they were elected to support. Unfortunately, many student governments have become more devoted to pushing the radical ideologies of their professors than to making campus life better for all students.