WASHINGTON -- The University of Connecticut's student government has stripped senior class senator Colin Neary of his position following an early November event he organized in which rapper Jasiri X performed a song banned by a contract created by the student group's comptroller.
When Jasiri X was sent the agreement from student government comptroller Daniel Hanley prohibiting him from performing his Occupy Wall Street-inspired song, "Occupy (We the 99)," at the Nov. 4 event, the Pittsburgh native signed it, but then went on stage and refused to adhere to the student group's demand. He performed the song after delivering a rant attacking the contract and the "gangster" who drafted it.
"In my humble opinion, Colin Neary was the only person I interacted with that properly represented UConn's student government," Jasiri X wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "When Colin emailed me saying members of the USG were concerned about my song, he stated clearly and directly that he would not censor my performance and if I performed 'Occupy (We the 99)' he would back me 100 percent."
In the aftermath of the concert, student government President Sam Tracy told HuffPost that the student group made a mistake when it attempted to ban certain songs from the performance.
Yet the UConn student government has continued to punish Neary. According to Jasiri X, Neary reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union via Facebook in an attempt to get the student government to follow through on Jasiri X's compensation, only to be dismissed as chair of the Diversity and Multicultural Subcommittee by Student Affairs chairman Stephen Petkiss for "inappropriately express[ing] his opinions and misrepresent[ing] the organization."
Neary remains a member of the student government. According to a UConn's Daily Campus article, Petkiss stated, "Colin was not impeached or removed from USG. I just thought it was important for a change in leadership in that committee."
Following Neary's dismissal, fellow student government member and chair of the Residential Affairs Subcommittee Bryan Flanaghan has resigned, protesting the student government's decision to dismiss someone based solely on a Facebook post, according to Jasiri X.
"At this moment I felt it would be a poor choice to stay in my position," Flanaghan told UConn's DailyCampus.
Jasiri X said he will not accept payment for the performance, although Tracy has vowed to compensate the rapper.
"I cannot in good [conscience] accept payment from the University of Connecticut student government for my performance on November 4th," he wrote in the email. "The UConn students and alumni should take a very close look at the USG leadership and decide if they are acting inappropriately and misrepresenting the University."
Neither Neary nor other members of the student government have returned calls for comment.
"The bigger issue is why does the University of Connecticut student government leadership have a problem with free speech?" Jasiri X asked in the email.
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