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Letter to the Editor: Response to "SGA Racism"

By Luke Miedriech

On April 9, a flyer was distributed on campus with two pictures of me in "blackface."  The Chronicle ran an article on this flyer, but there is a lot more to the story. A lot of details with regards to the flyer failed to be printed in the article. This picture was of myself in costume as Akeem Mellis, the current SGA Vice-President, during our annual Senate Halloween meeting. During this meeting members of Senate were strongly encouraged to dress as a fellow member of Student Government. I chose Mellis.

What was left out of this article were additional pictures, including one with Mellis and myself together, while I was still in costume. I was under the impression that everything was fine. I was felt reassured by the fact that part of this costume is still inside the President and Vice-President's office. However, I accept the fact that I may be mistaken, and I apologize to anyone that is offended by my actions during this meeting.

I want to set the record straight. What was posted on the front page of the April 15 edition of The Chronicle, entitled "SGA Racism," is a gross and false assumption of me as a person. I want the University community to know that I am by no means a racist, nor do I practice racism. When I dressed as Mellis, I was depicting one person, not an entire race. I do not understand why people suddenly have a problem with my Halloween costume. I understand why this appears offensive to others, but if this is so, then why was it not offensive months ago? If this truly offended someone, then I would have gladly addressed my actions months ago, when they actually happened. Months later I am experiencing malevolent opposition to my behavior.

I am proud to say that I have served the University since my arrival in Fall 2008. Whether it is attending meetings that run to 3:00 a.m. to plan Destination Runway, a charitable fundraiser, the endless hours that I dedicate to SGA, or the time I devote to my fraternity and my brothers, I have made major contributions to this University. I am sorry that I donned a costume that was taken out of context and offended anyone. This is not a reflection of my true character. I have been charitable and working hard to improve this University. It is one of my responsibilities to positively reform this University, and along the way I made a mistake. However, I have done nothing more than devote my life to this University and to everyone that interacts with the SGA. I volunteer my time working for a diverse community of students. I work extremely hard to improve the experiences of every single student at the University. Does this sound like something a racist would do?

Again, I sincerely apologize for my choice of costume and to anyone that it has offended. I will gladly discuss any issues regarding this matter. However, I prefer that you do not distribute fliers. The appropriate method is to discuss it in person.

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