Hannah Eason, News Editor
Georgia Geen, Executive Editor
A group of Student Government Association senators plans to introduce articles of impeachment against SGA president Breanna Harmon on Monday following Commonwealth Times reporting on conflict within the organization and reports that some leaders seized stacks of the publication from newsstands.
“We always support free press, and are extremely disappointed by the two members within SGA and David Greene, who blatantly attempted to censor free press and the Commonwealth Times,” read a statement from SGA senators.
Three student workers in the Commons, who asked to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation from their employer, independently told The Commonwealth Times they saw Commons director David Greene remove a display copy of the newspaper on Wednesday. The statement referenced SGA President Breanna Harmon and Student Life Chairwoman Raelyn Davis as two students who took newspapers from kiosks around campus.
VCU spokespeople have not responded to questions regarding whether Greene was involved in the removal of the newspapers.
Senators who signed on to the statement included Udhanth Mallasani, Fatima Malik, Sydney Biondi, Jed Baul, Sabeeka Khan, Zachary Hughes and Samara Shabon.
The Division of Student Affairs, which oversees both SGA and the Student Media Center — The Commonwealth Times’ parent organization — tweeted that VCU Police is investigating the reports and that the university will use the student conduct system to address violations.
VCU will also utilize the student conduct system to address violations.
VCU supports its independent student journalists and does not condone censorship in any form. https://t.co/etZHoqTbjQ
— VCU (@VCU) February 27, 2020
“VCU supports its independent student journalists and does not condone censorship in any form,” the tweet read.
SGA Senator Jed Baul released a statement via social media on Wednesday calling for the impeachment of Harmon, and calling the incident “unprofessional and an absolute embarrassment for this entire organization.”
“I’m scared about what’s going to happen next,” Baul wrote on his Instagram. “But it’s why I’m speaking out, so everyone else in this body can. This is about doing the right thing.”
Del. Chris Hurst, D-Montgomery, mentioned the seizure of the newspapers during a Senate Education and Health Committee meeting Wednesday, while arguing for House Bill 36. If passed, the bill would grant freedom of speech and the press to student journalists in school-sponsored media in public higher education.