The student government for the University’s largest college will decide next week whether to oust Michigan Student Assembly Rep. Kenneth Baker for being a member of an offensive Facebook.com group that he made public at last night’s MSA meeting.
LSA Student Government voted last night in favor of holding a trial for Baker, which could result in Baker’s removal from MSA.
Baker announced at Tuesday night’s MSA meeting that he belonged to a private Facebook.com group making fun of MSA Rep. Tim Hull, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The group – “I waste more time reading Tim Hull’s code amendments than I do on Facebook” – was started a little over a year ago by MSA President Zack Yost. The description Yost wrote included a reference to Hull’s Asperger’s. It said: “I’ll give that kid a fucking disability he can write home about if he keeps sending these code amendments to everyone.”
Because Baker was appointed to his position as MSA representative, he serves on the assembly at the leisure of his school’s government – in this case, LSA-SG.
The group will try Baker for violating an article of the LSA-SG constitution that allows the body to remove anyone from office for “inappropriate actions that jeopardize governmental affairs.”
Hull has publicly called for both Baker and Yost to resign from their positions on MSA, and yesterday issued an ultimatum.
“If Yost doesn’t step down, and the assembly refuses to take all the steps it can to remove him, then I’ll step down,” Hull said. “I don’t feel comfortable serving on a student government where the president is someone who attacked me about my disability.”
Yost wouldn’t disclose whether he would resign in the face of Hull’s comments but stressed that Hull was an important member of the assembly.
“Tim’s one of the hardest working and most principled kids on MSA,” Yost said. “I’d be sad to see him go.”
Baker said he would be willing to resign if Hull personally asked him to do so.
“If that’s his honest desire, I’m willing to do that,” he said.
Some people attacked Baker for revealing the group at a public meeting more than a year after it was created, calling the move politically motivated. After Yost made the group, Baker sent him a Gmail chat message praising the idea.
Baker said in an interview last night that there were four members of the Facebook group, but he would not reveal names other than his and Yost’s. At Tuesday night’s MSA meeting, he said he and Yost were the only members left in the group and refused to name any of the other past group members. He said it was their decision whether to come forward.
Whether Baker names other members, he is facing issues of his own.
When they debated the trial, LSA-SG members were concerned over whether trying Baker was an appropriate response to his membership in the Facebook group.
LSA-SG Vice President Hannah Madoff, who voted for the trial, said Baker needed to be tried because LSA-SG appointed him and therefore is responsible for his actions. She said that because students clearly disapproved of the Facebook group, Baker had violated the LSA-SG constitution.
LSA-SG Rep. Aaron Miller, the only dissenter, voted against the trial because he said it was too soon to decide.
“I’m not against a trial,” Miller said. “I think we rushed into this and it was an emotional day.”
Hull said he supports LSA-SG’s trial and feels that it’s important that a trial be held for the good of LSA-SG, not just him personally.
“The fact is that he came forward and he said he joined this group,” Hull said. “He said it. Anyway, I really – to the whole thing of jeopardizing governmental affairs, it’s not just a personal issue.”