The phrase “If you don’t vote classy, you’re voting for terrorists” was chalked outside of William’s Village the Sunday before UCSU elections week by a supporter of the “First Class Ticket.”
Medhat Ahmed, a senior MCD biology major, president of the Muslim Student Association and member of the GOLD Ticket that was running against First Class, took the chalking as not only a personal insult, but an offense to his community and way of life, he said. Of the five seats available for representative at large, all four members of the First Class Ticket nearly doubled the votes of the other tickets and the fifth seat was taken by the next highest ranked candidate: Ahmed.
“First Class will not apologize and will not take responsibility. That’s really upsetting me,” Ahmed said. “I am angry and mad because it’s offensive to me. Basically, it was taking my lifestyle over the past 21 years and putting it down the drain.”
The chalking was discovered by GOLD Ticket member and sophomore political science major Dustin Farivar, who contacted the elections commissioner as soon as he found it. Though members of the First Class Ticket immediately called a friend who lives in William’s Village to erase the chalking, no phone call was made to Ahmed for about four days to apologize, Ahmed said.
“By Wednesday, I still hadn’t heard from them,” Ahmed said. “I read the article in the Colorado Daily Thursday morning and thought that they were maybe misquoted so I had to call them and find out. After talking to Bill, I realized that the quotes in the paper were correct.”
Ahmed does not want to work with the First Class Ticket in UCSU until they apologize, he said.
“I’m not going to be able to work with someone who disrespected me and my entire community and my way of life,” Ahmed said. “I don’t understand why they can’t take down those barriers and just apologize for their supporters’ actions. They are not leaders because if they were they’d take responsibility for their supporters’ actions.”
Some members of the GOLD Ticket believe that this is another instance that proves CU needs more education when it comes to diversity, Farivar said.
“I hope one of the biggest outcomes is just that we know as a university that this behavior is inappropriate,” Farivar said. “It shows we need more education and training on this campus about what behavior is and is not appropriate.”
The First Class Ticket, on the other hand, does not believe they should apologize for the actions of others, said member Chance Heath, a sophomore international affairs major.
“Just because they write our name on it doesn’t mean they represent our views,” Heath said. “We do not know who did this chalking and we do not support what that chalking said. Whoever wrote it is clearly not a supporter because we don’t believe it.”
During elections week, the First Class Ticket had many students helping them chalk around campus, all of whom were either members of the First Class Ticket or friends of the members, so they do not think those people would write a remark like that, Heath said.
“It’s not something that warrants an apology because we didn’t do it,” said First Class Ticket member Bill Holway, a junior aerospace engineering major. “I realize that we have to be responsible for people who agree with us but 1,100 people voted for us and we can’t be responsible for all those people.”
Though the First Class Ticket members said they are morally comfortable taking responsibly of their actions, they realize they can not take on the responsibility of the actions of 20,000 people, Holway said.
Thus far, Ahmed, Holway and Heath have met on only a few occasions and the discussion has been dealt with in a mature manner, Heath said. They are looking forward to working with Ahmed and hope relations between them are positive, Holway said.
First Class Ticket members currently have two infractions against them, one for the terrorist chalking and another for failing to use recyclable paper for their flyers. A third infraction could mean that higher measures have to be taken, such as a re-election or the dismissal of the First Class Ticket all together, said Eric Day, a member of The EDJ Ticket and a sophomore political science major.
“I think whoever wrote that remark thought it was funny and kind of an allusion to the war on terrorism but didn’t think of who might be offended,” Day said. “Nobody on the ticket necessarily did it themselves, but they should apologize for it to MSA and The GOLD Ticket as a whole, saying that it wasn’t their intent.”
Overall, The EDJ Ticket sides with Ahmed and believes First Class should apologize.
“I personally wouldn’t want to work with someone who labeled me a terrorist and wouldn’t apologize for it,” said Jordan Lewis, a sophomore political science major on The EDJ Ticket. “I’d definitely be iffy about it.”
Students who voted in the UCSU rep-at-large elections feel strongly about the issue and are torn as to whether or not an apology to Ahmed is needed.
“If it was me and I was in their position and someone else wrote that, I would think that them having to apologize is unfair,” said Allana Winsted, a junior integrated physiology major. “I think these days so many people are having to pay for other peoples’ actions. It’s unfortunate that that happened, that’s for sure. It’s a sticky situation.”
Others disagree and believe First Class should apologize regardless of who chalked the racial comment.
“They may not think that they are personally associated with it, but if they apologize and clear the air then it would be better than being stubborn about it,” said Sarah Conner, a sophomore English major. “They could apologize that someone associated with their ticket made such a horrible remark.”
Currently, a conclusion between Ahmed and First Class has not been reached, but if an apology is not expressed by First Class soon, Ahmed plans to take further steps within CU’s administration, he said.