Updated Thursday, April 30, 3:15 p.m. to include President Hall’s apology
In an ASUN Committee on Oversight meeting on April 29, President Dominique Hall was called before the committee in regards to comments she made on social media while campaigning for president of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno and after being inaugurated into the position.
The statements in question, which President Hall was asked to clarify and discuss during the meeting, were in regards to Hall’s claims that she is the first black woman ASUN president at the University of Nevada, Reno.
University student and former ASUN College of Business Senator Hannah Hudson disputed this statement and claimed her mother and former ASUN President Samantha Dollison, who was elected in 1992, was the first black woman to be elected ASUN President.
Hudson claims she reached out to President Hall on Wednesday, April 15, after she was inaugurated, to tell her she was not the first black woman to hold ASUN presidential office, but rather Dollison was.
“Dom ran on a platform aimed to bring a voice to underrepresented students like victims of sexual assault, lower income students and minority groups,” Hudson said. “The events I’m about to explain entirely contradict what President Hall has claimed to stand for, are inappropriate, and to put it plainly, rude.”
Twitter user @ehmtee tweeted on Thursday, April 16 congratulating Hall but noting Samantha Hudson’s election in 1992.
President Hall replied to the tweet, tweeting “Thank you! She definitely paved the way for a 100% black woman to be president.”
“To invalidate another woman of color in her experiences because she is not as black as you are, is despicable and disgusting,” Hudson said in regard to Hall’s tweet. “It was completely unnecessary to bring in the percentage of race when President Hall actually had no idea how black Samantha is and was assuming on the basis of either her looks or maybe her name that she wasn’t 100% black.”
However, other students agreed President Hall is deserving of the title.
“I feel that our black students have every right to view Dominique Hall as their first black woman president because they are able to relate to her lack of racial ambiguity,” former ASUN Director of Diversity and Inclusion Ayanna Releford said.
Student Destiny Iwuajoku spoke during public comment, claiming Hall should use the title “unapologetically”.
“Her victory as president has made monumental strides for black students because it has given us representation, hope and a feeling of accomplishment,” Iwuajoku said. “She has been one of the only few people in our presidential history that has effectively represented black students on this campus and because of that, I think she should unapologetically be named UNR’s first female black president.”
Senators on the Committee on Oversight questioned President Hall on her failure to respond to the claims after she was informed by Hudson on Wednesday, April 15.
Senator Supple brought up an article from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ student newspaper, the Scarlet and Gray Free Press, that had been published on Sunday, April 26, over a week after she was informed by Hudson. In the article, Hall is identified as “the first black woman student body president at UNR,” and is later quoted saying that she “holds great respect for the informal title.”
President Hall and other public comment speakers called the incident a “black issue”.
“This issue at hand is incredibly complex and I feel it would be most beneficial to discuss this only among our black students,” Releford said.
President Hall also pointed out no member of the committee was a black student.
“I understand some people may view former president Dollison as the first black woman president. While I respect that, I don’t think it should take away from other students who view me and feel represented from me being the first black woman president. While this is incredibly important it will also be simultaneously incredibly difficult because no one on this committee is a black student and will understand this multifaceted issue.”
After discussion, the Committee on Oversight voted to recommend President Hall “apologize for her statement on social media and to the Nevada Sagebrush,” according to a memo from Speaker Keegan Murphy. “This was in regard to your statements that have not represented the ideals of the Association or the ASUN Code of Conduct. This recommendation was passed unanimously.”
The full apology can be found at the bottom of this article.
According to Hudson, the recommendation to Hall to apologize to her constituents is appropriate.
“At the end of the day I think Dom should be proud of the accomplishment she has made in becoming president, and should in no way apologize for being another black female ASUN president, however she has disrespected Samantha and invalidated her race and experience and caused other biracial students on this campus to feel isolated and for that, I think it is only appropriate to apologize,” Hudson said in a statement to the Nevada Sagebrush after the meeting. “Although Dom was not the first female black ASUN President, I certainly hope she will not be the last.”
Hudson further added in her comments that she had been blocked from viewing Hall’s Instagram and Twitter accounts “immediately” after the committee meeting adjourned.
“This shows me she holds hostility towards me and as an undergraduate student on this campus I no longer feel safe voicing my opinions on matters to ASUN because of Dom Hall,” said Hudson in her statement.
Hall responded to a request for comment regarding this allegation, stating, “I choose to remove anyone from my social media that wasn’t friend or family and keep it personal to avoid further confusion. I understand social media and my presidency should be separated.”
President Hall’s apology provided to the Nevada Sagebrush and posted on her social media channels is as follows:
To my fellow constituents,
I am formally apologizing and clearing the confusion for the statements I made via social media following my inauguration as the President of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno. My intention was never to invalidate former ASUN president Dollison’s experiences and racial background. I only wanted to celebrate my identity, but I now see how my choice of wording was divisive and exclusionary to those with biracial identities.
Following election results, I identified myself, using an informal title, as the first black woman president at the University but a constituent brought to my attention on inauguration night that this wasn’t the case.
Moving forward, I plan on reaching out to the proper parties and acknowledge the work all of my predecessors have accomplished regardless of race. I intend to continue their legacies they have paved for student-leaders at the University of Nevada, Reno. I will serve this University and its constituents with utmost respect and integrity.
Thank you to my predecessors for all of the hard work dedicated to building a more inclusive University.
President of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada
For the full context of the situation and my thorough statement visit: http://nevadaasun.com/meetings/committee-on-oversight-120/… to listen to the audio minutes.
Olivia Ali and Taylor Avery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @NevadaSagebrush.