Opinion Submission: Joint student organization statement on recall of Speaker of Senate Sonal Churiwal

As advocacy and affinity organizations and representatives, we are deeply disturbed by efforts to recall Speaker of the Senate Sonal Churiwal from Student Union (SU) Senate, and we urge you to vote nay, against her recall, on April 9. We believe that the recall push is politically motivated and perpetuates racist stereotypes. 

The petition to recall Churiwal from the Senate follows her public support and co-authorship of a resolution calling on Washington University to divest from Boeing. It is also supported and largely circulated by students who oppose divestment and Churiwal’s public pro-Palestine stance. 

This petition accuses Churiwal of having a “threatening demeanor.” We find this accusation to be false and a misconstruction of her character. Churiwal is a fierce advocate with staunch convictions about students’ duties and responsibilities to demand accountability from WashU as an institution. Churiwal is unapologetically vocal about her beliefs. Her advocacy is rooted in strong morals that lead her to stand up against inequities. She does not shy away from criticism or dissent over issues ranging from the firing of Philip Dybvig to the divestment from Boeing. 

To cast her robust value system and willingness to disrupt as “threatening” is nothing more than the manifestation of racist and sexist stereotypes like the “angry woman of color.” 

Her tenure in Senate has been marked by a record number of advocacy initiatives, spanning reproductive justice, racial equity, and sexual violence prevention projects seeking to support the most marginalized communities on campus. Through her leadership as a senator, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair, and speaker, Churiwal urged Senate to act as a body that truly responds to students’ concerns and campus developments. 

We are disappointed by the petition’s unsubstantiated claims of intimidation and corruption. In particular, we find the isolation of a singular senator for failing to adhere to parliamentary procedure alarming given that SU has inconsistently applied Robert’s Rules long before her term as speaker. We see this recall mechanism as little more than a shoddy attempt to publicly humiliate Churiwal, who is exceptionally qualified to serve as Speaker. 

We are disturbed by the persistent doxing, cyberbullying, and stalking she has faced. We are appalled, but not surprised, by the University’s lack of accountability and protection measures. Regardless of political affiliations, this university has a responsibility to protect students from harassment.

As dedicated student advocates, we strongly stand in support of Churiwal. Vote no on the recall and retain Sonal Churiwal on April 9.

Signed, the executive members of: 

Muslim Students Association 

Jewish Students for Palestine 

Resist WashU 

Asian Multicultural Council 

Asians Demanding Justice 

Association of Black Students 

African Student Association 

Pride Alliance 

Transcending Gender 

Ashoka 

College Democrats 

South Asian Justice Collective 

#MeToo WashU 

Gender Expansive Multicultural Society

Middle Eastern & North African Association 

Sikh Students Association

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