Rochester, NY – A Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) student government senator who stood for peoples’ right to express support for the Thin Blue Line is facing potential impeachment.
RIT senior and Student Government College of Liberal Arts Senator Jacob Custer refused to denounce the pro-police symbol as a sign of “overt racism,” prompting 21 of his fellow student government members to petition for his impeachment, The College Fix reported.
The group alleged Custer’s “words and actions” were “not in the best interest of his constituents,” the student government, and the entire RIT community.
“Student Government’s mission is to represent the interests of the student body through the implementation of innovative programs, services, and initiatives that enrich student lives,” the impeachment petition letter read. “This letter is intended to bring awareness to multiple accounts where Jacob Custer goes against the mission of Student Government, specifically going against the initiatives that enrich student lives on RIT’s campus.”
The group claimed Custer exhibited “disrespect towards fellow senators” during the course of “numerous unpleasant exchanges of words and first-hand experiences.”
“These actions include, but are not limited to, negative attitudes towards members, blatant disregard of the effects of controversial topics such as Blue Lives Matter and how it affects the Black and Brown community, and blatant disregard for anyone’s views,” they wrote in the impeachment petition letter.
In addition to allegedly violating numerous university policies, Custer “has not properly represented his constituents nor Student Government time and time again,” the group declared.
“He not only makes members of Student Government uncomfortable, but also leaves his constituents feeling underrepresented,” they claimed.
According to The College Fix, the allegations against Custer arose after a conversation that took place in a student government group message about the prospect of filing a bias report against an RIT safety officer who was spotted wearing a Thin Blue Line facemask.
The members seeking to impeach Custer included screenshots of the conversation with their petition to bolster their arguments against him, The College Fix reported.
One of the student government representatives suggested they should apply “a little bit of pressure” on RIT’s administration to “get them to shuffle blue lives matter out of the ‘free speech’ category and into the ‘overt racism’ category,” by publicly “making a stink” about the issue, the screenshots showed.
Custer argued against the proposal and said it would tread on people’s free speech rights.
“Just simply because you (and others) are moving a point of view that you may disagree with…into a category to suppress that idea is not being virtuous or being on a higher moral ground,” he wrote. “It is rather showing intolerance to other views other than your own.”
Custer said it is “wholly ignorant” to declare the Blue Lives Matter movement “racist.”
“What about all of the cops of various colors serving? Are they racist because they are cops?” he asked. “If you and other[s] believe that anything that can be viewed to oppose Black Lives Matter is racist is also ignorant and illogical. It is a false dilemma fallacy.”
Custer said in the group exchange that people who wear Thin Blue Line masks are expressing their right to free speech.
“It is not our role to determine what idea is good or bad simply because a few members or more disagree with it and punish members of our community over something small,” he added. “That is just outright censorship.”
One of the other student government members accosted Custer in the group message for allegedly trying “to tell someone of color…when something is or isn’t racist.”
“When it comes to my blackness, I’m not going to let someone who isn’t of color try to tell me whether something is racist or not,” the unnamed representative added.
The student government member then proclaimed that seeing a public safety officer wearing a Thin Blue Line mask would “instantly” cause them to feel like the officer was “about to shoot me.”
“YOU may not feel that way because guess what, that’s your White male privilege,” the message continued. “I’m not sitting here and telling them not to wear [it] but don’t wear it around me, plain and simple.”
Custer responded to the message by pointing out that ideas are not limited only to issues of race.
The concept that “if you are or aren’t a certain race then you can or can’t have or support certain ideas” is ignorant, because “ideas transcend all race, class, economic level, sex, creed, religion, ethnicity and so on,” he wrote.
“Claiming to be open minded and want to censor ideas you disagree with is not exactly being open minded,” Custer added. “Racism goes both ways, it is not limited to one race as you are implying.”
He concluded by telling the group that he is among may RIT students who support Blue Lives Matter, and said he is “standing by the idea of free speech as a whole,” even with regards to ideas he disagrees with.
Custer told The College Fix that opposing student government members refused to listen to any view that didn’t fall in line with their own.
“Breaking news: Jacob Custer is angry and taking a stand against people of color because he isn’t allowed to disagree with the idea that Black people don’t deserve to be murdered,” one representative wrote in the group message, according to The College Fix.
A counter-petition in support of Custer has amassed 207 signatures, thereby surpassing the minimum threshold for the document to be considered by the RIT Student Government.
Custer told The College Fix that he expects the impeachment proceedings to kick off during the first week of the upcoming RIT semester.
“The process is still ongoing and the hearing on the impeachment grounds will be soon,” he explained to the news outlet. “I fear I will face repercussions simply because I stood for free speech, and I knew of such consequences on a liberal campus, but I believe such fear is something other students should not have to face in a disagreement.”