Dear Justice Utu,

We, the editors of The Criterion, would like to file a grievance against Sen. Richard Nguyen considering the information listed in the senator’s joint grievance filed against The Criterion and Alec Williams. It is clear in the reasons he has provided that his grievance would stand as a violation of the Associated Student Government Constitution:

“The right to present their ideas on any subject without penalty or censorship with the exception of endangerment to life, property, or intrusion upon the equal rights of others. This right includes the freedom of campus media to engage in meaningful discussion of student issues without fear of financial retribution from the Associated Student Government. Also, students have the right to religious freedom, except when that freedom infringes upon the rights of others or endangers life or property.”

Nguyen is in clear violation in both documents, if you look to his email, which includes the following: “Other reasons that have led to this grievance just boils down to our student fee’s [sic] being wasted on hearing opinions in our newspaper.”

In one sentence, the senator acknowledges that his reasoning behind this decision is merely disagreeing with the opinions of CMU student journalists, as well as implies that The Criterion should not receive its funding. In doing so, Sen. Nguyen is violating our ASG student rights by officially suggesting we do not deserve our opinion: “This right includes the freedom of campus media to engage in meaningful discussion of student issues without fear of financial retribution from the Associated Student Government” (ARTICLE II: Student Bill of Rights).

Sen. Nguyen has spoken about the internal environment about The Criterion as someone who has never come to a meeting this year or spoken to Alec Williams personally about any of these concerns. It seems that Sen. Nguyen has used a very upsetting story about a woman being threatened with sexual assault as an opportunity to silence his student newspaper. He provides no example of the ethics he purports The Criterion has violated. In the senator’s grievance, he discusses this reasoning for only 129 words, spending the remaining 229 complaining about the legal and independent decisions within the student newspaper.

The timing of this grievance is interesting as well, due to the fact that The Criterion wrote about ASG in two separate articles in the Nov. 7 edition, both criticizing the student government. We believe this is a clear example of Sen. Nguyen’s underlying reasons for this grievance, and would explain his inclusion of Alec Williams in it. Williams wrote an opinion piece grading the student government with a grade that was not high and not well-received.

Even if Sen. Nguyen filed this personally, he signed the email “Language, Literature, and Mass Communications [sic] Senator.” He also announced the grievance to the entire senate body during the official meeting, which means he was speaking as a student senator of the Associated Student Government, a deeply disturbing fact.

We believe Sen. Nguyen has made a very serious violation of the ASG Constitution and deserves to be investigated as such. Sen. Nguyen has implied The Criterion should not receive its funding because of the opinions it expresses, and in doing so, he has provided the greatest example of The Criterion’s need for independence from Student Life and ASG. And quite frankly, Sen. Nguyen is not “represent[ing] their constituency in all matters before the Senate” when he files an official grievance against his constituents.

Sen. Nguyen finishes his grievance with eight vague words that speak all too clearly about his intention: “I hope we can get this resolved ASAP.”

Does Sen. Nguyen wish for Alec Williams to be fired? All of the editors? Our budget cut?

No matter what, Sen. Nguyen’s grievance has incredible implications and it is up to the student government to decide how much they value their students’ right to free speech and free press.

Respectfully,

Alec Williams

Lauren Lipski

Chris DeLeon

Casey Smith

Matthew Kennedy

Cassidy Jimerson

Maddie Banfield

Laura Huwa

Emma Berry

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