In early December, a tweet from Southern University’s Student Government Association President, Zana Harris, found it’s way around the web and not for good reasons.
“Now y’all have officially released the beast,” Harris tweeted, her next post caused controversy among the SU community.
“Let’s be clear…if I wanted to run for Miss Southern I would have,” she tweeted.
“I’m over you faggots making memes of me. Now man up for what’s coming,” Harris continued.
Later, a meme was created which included the face of Donald Trump over Harris’ face using her own words against her. After being talked about on social media by many SU alumni and students, who all probably shared the meme, Harris recognized that she was wrong and has since apologized for her actions.
The clicking of fingers on social media had hit the hearts of many students from various backgrounds. One of those students included Jacqueline Morgan.
“I feel strongly about the LGBTQ community both on and off campus,” Morgan told HBCU Buzz. Still upset with the SGA President’s reactions, Morgan stated that she will not back down until administration takes actions on the incident conducted by Harris.
“It makes my blood boil to see how a person can do such a thing and still stay in office.”
According to the Student Handbook, Harris’ tweet violates Part IV, Section 13 under University Policies and Student Code of Conduct, under Moral Turpitude. It states the following:
13. Moral Turpitude: an act of baseness, vileness or depravity, which brings shame to the University and is in contradiction to the letter and sprit of the University’s Student Code of Conduct, good citizenship and ethics, is prohibited. Included in this are inappropriate postings on the internet and social media in acts of baseness, vileness or depravity. Violators will be subject to disciplinary action.
According to Webster’s dictionary, the word is used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a male homosexual. The word also violates Title IX, according to the university handbook. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.
SU student Joseph Stevenson, felt invisible after the incident. “I’m a radio talk show host and I received many calls and texts urging me not to go on air and talk about the situation,” Stevenson stated, as he reflected on the moment feeling disrespected.
“I know that it’s a lot of pressure being SGA President but heavy the head that wears the crown,” Stevenson added.
When SGA President Harris was contacted by HBCU Buzz, she respectfully explained her actions:
“When I made that tweet, it wasn’t aimed towards homosexual people; I have gay uncles and my best friend is a lesbian, I have many gay friends.”
Harris explained to the Southern community that she is working towards making the campus more inclusive for all students, sending out a public apology.
“As Miss Southern University and A&M College, I vowed to uphold the best interests and general welfare of our students,” Vaughn said. “What I have found is that some student leaders are bribed to no longer represent the students, but to advocate for some administrators who do not have the best interests of the students at heart, evident in the nonexistent and/or non-effective response to grievances here at Southern University.”
SU Dean of Students Marcus A. Coleman stated that “The Office of Dean of Students imposes reasonable sanctions as a result of conduct or behavior that threatens the positivity or safety of any individuals under Southern University and A&M College’s jurisdiction” based on his response to Morgan’s incident filing. He also went on to say that based on Harris’ public apology no additional administrative action will be taken.
In her letter, Harris explained her regret for her actions. “I made several statements that I deeply regret,” she said. “My statements were offensive, demeaning, and made out of frustration.” Her letter explains how the SGA is working hard on amendments for the benefit of all students.
Her letter explains how the SGA is working hard on amendments for the benefit of all students.
During the first official Senate meeting held on Thursday, Jan. 12, several amendments were passed. According to an article published by university newspaper, The Southern Digest, students and members of the Student Liberation Alliance Movement collectively left the meeting. This is the result after the Senate voted on increasing the GPA for all SGA positions along with candidates required to complete one full year in the Student Government Association.
The top tier positions include President, Vice President, Chief Justice, and Miss Southern.
A clip sent to HBCU Buzz shows how many students existed the meeting after the amendment was passed. You can check out the video below.
Many students felt as if the amendment keeps students away from joining SGA who have a passion for leadership and serving the university.
SU SGA Vice President Breanna Perkins told The Southern Digest, that “I’m really happy to see that they are sharing their opinions. It brought on a new sense of urgency and hunger for change.”
Some students feel as if Vaughn is stepping out of line when it comes to representing her HBCU.
Across the nation, many students of HBCUs are looked down upon for taking problems to social media and letting the world know what is going on. Many consider university and college problems as an “in-house” task. Feeling hopeless and attempting to reach out to various administrators, Vaughn said enough was enough and that she represents the students and how they feel:
“To everyone who tells me that I’m out of line and that I’m trying to make my university look bad; If I did not love my university, I would continue to stand by and allow the powers that be, destroy it. I will no longer be silent. I will no longer stand by.”
The Student Liberation Alliance Movement plans on hosting many activities on campus including small group discussions focusing on student connections and support systems along with campus cleanups.