Guneez, Hannah, and UT’s Racist Underbelly
It’s fair to say that UT faced a bit of a rocky student government election, and as a student with little faith in student government I had initially disregarded the campaigns. It wasn’t until the last day of the first election when I was caught up in what was happening.
When I heard about the sanction placed against the Guneez & Hannah campaign and the treatment they faced, I was outraged. Ibrahim, a first generation Pakistani-Muslim student from southern Louisiana, said she was called a terrorist and a Nazi; additionally being accused of being anti-Semitic and anti-white because of social media activity from the official campaign Twitter account and past tweets by McMorris.
This situation resulted in a bar being placed on the Ibrahim-McMorris campaign which prevented them from campaigning on the last day of the elections.This decision did not come without the outrage of various left organizations on campus that staged a protest on West Mall on March 1, with chants and signs in support of Palestine and rallying against the fundamentally racist institution that the student government is.
The first election that occurred on March 1, was nullified after the SG Supreme Court declared that the temporary bar on Ibrahim-McMorris’ campaign was unconstitutional. Leading to a run-off, then in this first run-off neither team has received a majority, finally, with the second run-off, this election came to a close with Colton and Mehraz winning the final vote.
But the story does not simply end there. On Thursday, April 19, the official Twitter of the Guneez & Hannah campaign released information on some of the disgusting actions brothers of Phi Kappa Psi have committed against them and Phi Kappa Psi’s unwillingness to accept their campaign’s invitation to discuss these issues. The Hannah & Guneez campaign says that over the past few weeks they have tried to resolve the situation that resulted from brother’s of Phi Kappa Psi stealing their large wooden campaign sign. When the campaign asked for the sign back they were told that the sign had been destroyed, in exchange for the lost sign the fraternity re-painted a sign. Resulting in a lazy and disrespectful attempt to imitate the original board. The board had cost the campaign $61 to create, and the Phi Psi President claimed they had been repaid, yet the campaign had only been sent $25.
If this wasn’t ridiculous enough, on Venmo, the group had publicly noted their payments as “Reparations” and “Liberalism.” Beyond this, a member, whose name also appears in the Venmo transaction, posted a now-deleted tweet claiming he was not the one who stole the sign even though he was clearly identified in the video.
Not only this, but the same member currently has his profile picture showing him running with the stolen sign. This is a clear example of how white greek institutions do little to carry over the honor and “tradition” of their organization, but rather use their letters and privileged status to commit blatantly racist acts and face little to no institutional backlash. This is not to bash all greek life institutions, but to place a critical light on Greek organizations who have catered to white, upper-middle class individuals, who are indifferent to the struggles that black and brown students face on a campus that was built for their wealthy ancestors.
Students on this campus should not be complacent in the face of such vile acts, if we are a campus that values diversity, inclusivity, and the voices of students of color, why are we silent while monuments of racism still hold such notable places on campus, like RLM and everything named after the Confederate soldier George Littlefield?
If we as students want our voices to be heard, why must they be filtered through Student Government? An institution meant to silence student’s voices by having us filtered through our fundamentally racist institution as opposed to building strong, democratic, student unions.
Additionally, Offices like Sorority and Fraternity Life, should take substantial action against the brothers of Phi Kappa Psi, and additionally take more action in weeding out the toxic behavior that can exist in Greek life, from racism, hypermasculinity, and sexual assault.
It is our duty as students to not just pursue knowledge at this institution but to make a change, to make this institution better, to make the world better. With that hope, we can make this campus an anti-racist, anti-fascist, institution that cares for its students, not its wealthy donors.