University of Michigan community members are calling for the resignation or recall of Regent Ron Weiser (R) from the University’s Board of Regents, condemning Weiser for not specifically denouncing President Donald Trump for inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
A petition begun by students Friday, which has garnered over 4,000 signatures, calls on Weiser to resign due to his past involvement with the Michigan Republican Party and the Trump administration.
“The evidence is clear: Ron Weiser is complicit in Wednesday’s historic and horrifying events, and continues to defend their instigators,” the petition reads. “We demand that he either resign or be recalled by the Board of Regents, and we expect President Schlissel to condemn this threat to all students of color on campus.”
The petition is endorsed by the past five Central Student Government presidents, including the 2020 CSG president and vice president, public policy senior Amanda Kaplan and LSA senior Saveri Nandigama, respectively. Prominent University groups, including the Climate Action Movement, the U-M Graduate Employees' Organization, the University’s Roosevelt Society chapter and the One University campaign have also signed on.
Because regents are elected statewide, an approved recall petition must garner signatures from 25 percent of the number of Michigan voters in the 2020 general election. The change.org petition is not recognized by the state of Michigan as an approved recall petition. The requirement of more than a million signatures within 60 days of the first signature makes Weiser’s recall unlikely.
Dozens of faculty members have also signed an open letter released Saturday demanding that Weiser resign immediately from his position as regent. While acknowledging that it is unclear whether Michigan Republican Party members directly participated in Wednesday's riots, the petition states that Weiser's role as incoming chair of Michigan GOP is incompatible with his duty as regent.
"As a University of Michigan Regent, you serve as the public face of a great university that champions the pursuit of truth and a genuinely just society," the petition reads. "By contrast, as chair of MI-GOP, you will be required to promote policies and strategies that MI-GOP uses to pursue electoral victories. This includes placating violent extremists within your party as well as those who support or tolerate them."
The call for Weiser’s resignation or recall comes after the regent told Bridge Magazine on Thursday he did not know if he blamed Trump for the Wednesday riots.
“I didn’t read any of that stuff, and I didn't watch television,” Weiser said. “I watched Michigan destroy Minnesota in basketball, and that kind of contest is something that I strongly support.”
He tweeted a full statement on Wednesday’s riot later Thursday following the publication of the Bridge article.
“I strongly condemn those people who turned into a mob and breached the Capitol after what was supposed to be a peaceful protest,” Weiser tweeted. “Those who broke the law should be held accountable. My heart goes out to the families of those who were unnecessarily harmed. The President said this morning that a peaceful transfer of power will occur and therefore the 2020 elections are over. It is time for Republicans to rest, regroup, and focus on defeating the Democrats in 2022.”
Weiser told the Detroit News Saturday he is "definitely not" resigning, and that he condemned the violence once he was aware of what had happened.
"I spent most of that ugly day in a dental chair having oral surgery," Weiser said. "I am guilty of not watching news on TV or watching or using social media. Nothing more… Because of this transgression, my children and grandchildren have been harasssed. There should be more civility in our community!"
Weiser declined Thursday and Friday to be interviewed by The Michigan Daily. The University Office of Public Affairs forwarded Weiser’s statement to The Daily and declined to comment further.
Weiser is the incoming co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party — after current chair Laura Cox announced Wednesday she would not run for the position again — and former fundraising chair for the Republican National Committee. Democrats and some Republicans have accused Trump of inciting a coup on Wednesday, and multiple White House officials have resigned.
Five people have died from injuries or conditions inflicted at the Capitol Wednesday, including a Capitol police officer.
Meshawn Maddock, Weiser’s co-chair running mate, organized buses to take Michiganders to Washington D.C. Wednesday. In a Thursday tweet, Maddock wrote that she condemns the violence and breaching of the Capitol “in the strongest possible terms.”
“The rally was supposed to be a peaceful event and people who broke the law should be held accountable,” Maddock wrote. “I am horrified at the death of the young woman and pray for the healing of our nation.”
Maddock is director of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which in a Wednesday morning email to members prayed that God “convict” members of Congress, judges and other elected officials who have “refused to get involved” in overturning Biden’s election victory.
“The real war we are fighting is for the spiritual soul and God-given destiny of our nation,” the email reads.
Weiser told Bridge on Thursday that Maddock was watching the chaos in D.C. from a hotel room window.
“I don’t believe she was part of it,” Weiser said. “I don’t believe she incited it.”
LSA junior Ryan Fisher, chairman of the University’s College Republicans, condemned the petition in a text message to The Daily.
“This is an insignificant attack on a great regent, one that is unlikely to succeed,” Fisher wrote. “The accusations levied by recall proponents are empty and impetuous.”
Public Policy senior Ben Gerstein, former Central Student Government president, expressed his support for the petition in a tweet Friday afternoon, demanding University administrators and President Mark Schlissel notice the call for Weiser’s resignation or recall.
“Beyond his role in elevating President Trump’s fascist movement, Regent Weiser has shielded himself from scrutiny through both his personal donations to the University and his position on the Board of Regents,” Gerstein tweeted. “As the former and incoming Chairman of the Michigan GOP, and his past role as the RNC’s fundraising coordinator for President Trump, he is complicit in the events that culminated in Wednesday’s attempted white supremacist coup.”
This is a developing story. Check michigandaily.com for updates.
Daily News Editor Calder Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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