Student Assembly holds special session, passes resolution condemning Capitol insurrection participants

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Student Assembly convened via Zoom to discuss resolution concerning Capitol insurrection. CALLIE BOOTH / THE FLAT HAT

Sunday, Jan. 17, the College of William and Mary Student Assembly held a special session to pass the “The Insurrection Condemnation Resolution.” Senators created this resolution in response to  the actions that took place during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol Building.

The resolution condemns the siege and destruction of the Capitol as well as the actions of the individuals who were prepared to harm members of the United States Congress. Additionally, the resolution condemns the actions of former President Donald Trump through which he encouraged his supporters to participate in the insurrection.

Sens. Peter Hayden MBA ’21 and Zhanna Imel MBA ’21 sponsored this resolution. Hayden expressed why the resolution needed to pass, especially at a school like the College.

“It’s important to realize that we are the ‘Alma Mater of the Nation,’ and many of our founding fathers and mothers went to William and Mary,” Hayden said.

SA  President Anthony Joseph ‘21 also supported the resolution and contextualized the act within the College’s recent history.

“William and Mary has a lot of responsibility to repair in the past,”  Joseph  said. “… When we look at this moment 10 years from now, where were you in that moment? What side were you on? Where did you stand for and what did you not stand for?”

“William and Mary has a lot of responsibility to repair in the past,”  Joseph  said. “… When we look at this moment 10 years from now, where were you in that moment? What side were you on? Where did you stand for and what did you not stand for?”

Joseph further elaborated on the importance for SA to condemn the act because many College alumni contributed to the event.

The resolution specifically condemned two alumni of the College who serve in the House of Representatives, Rep. Steve Chabot ‘75 and Rep. Matthew Gaetz J.D. ‘07, who both voted to throw out certified Electoral College votes for then President-Elect Joseph R. Biden. SA encouraged the College’s administration to enforce accountability from these two alumni, while also asking for explanations from Chabot and Gaetz about their support for the controversial measure in Congress.

Imel spoke to a complex dynamic between the College’s relationship with its alumni, in that some College alumni contributed to the building of American democracy centuries ago — and now SA views some alumni as actively eroding that work.

“It was also kind of surprising that William and Mary has built these democratic ideas, yet we saw several William and Mary alumni representatives that were bashing our American democratic ideas by saying there was fraud in the election,” Imel said.

Sen. Mia Tilman ‘24 believes that both current students and alumni have a responsibility to uphold the legacy of democracy that has been built.

“Alumni of the College have had bad positions in US history, and it is important that we look at the history and the present and acknowledge that we have had a role in some of the damage this country has done,” Tilman said. “As a school that has such a large role in the creation of US history, it is our place to make a statement.”

“Alumni of the College have had bad positions in US history, and it is important that we look at the history and the present and acknowledge that we have had a role in some of the damage this country has done,” Tilman said. “As a school that has such a large role in the creation of US history, it is our place to make a statement.”

SA also condemned four House members from Virginia who voted against Trump’s second impeachment, which occurred a week after Jan. 6’s insurrection. These condemned congressmen were Reps. Ben Cline, Bob Good, Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman. SA also encouraged Congress and the Department of Justice to bring appropriate legal action against Trump after his presidential term expired Jan. 20.

The resolution additionally commended four House members — and College alumni — who voted to impeach Trump three weeks ago: Reps. Stephanie Murphy ’00, Jennifer Wexton J.D. ’95, Dina Titus ’70 and Lizzie Fletcher ’06. SA also praised the bravery of the Capitol Police and National Guard, along with journalists who documented the siege when they were at risk of danger. Further recognition was given to Eugene Goodman, a Capitol police officer who protected Congress from the onslaught of domestic terrorists.

SA published a co-authors statement that was written by Hayden. His letter emphasized his belief that the United States is currently deeply divided and he said that American citizens need to have more respect for one another so that events similar to the insurrection are not repeated.

“What I was taught growing up was to do the right thing, and when you are in a position to say that something that is wrong, you should say it,” Hayden said.

Finally, the resolution acknowledged how the College is known as the “Alma Mater of the Nation,” with many alumni being influential figures within the executive, legislative and judicial branches that helped establish modern American democracy.

“We are the ‘alma mater of the nation,’” Joseph said. “We helped create this democracy and our actions directly coincide with the mission of our university.”