Sen. Shahriyar Smith informally resigned from the student senate last week amidst complaints about his lack of representation of multicultural student groups and organizations, also known as the multicultural cluster.
On January 28 a request to have Shahriyar Smith taken off the senate or moved to another position was made by the coordinators of the multicultural cluster.
The request was made due to claims by multicultural groups that Smith did not represent their interests.
The timing of his resignation raised questions about his motivation for resigning, which he says is due to his work with the student publication The Spectator, and his possible position as new editor of the student publication.
Aaleya Spence, PSU’s multicultural affairs director, said Smith’s resignation was made after February 10, four weeks before elections, meaning that no one can be appointed to the multicultural seat he represented until after elections.
“He knows what he wants to accomplish, and it’s a great political move,” she said. “Shah is a very smart person. He knows the process back to front.”
Smith said he resigned at that time because the conflict of interest as senator and possible editor of The Spectator would be detrimental. He wanted to avoid any legal issues that could have arisen out of being involved with both parties.
As for whether he properly represented the multicultural cluster, he says he thinks he’s been a great multicultural representative.
“To say I’m not cultural is ridiculous,” Smith said. “The attachment of ideas to ethnicity or culture is dangerous and bigoted,” he added.
Roger Wert, co-coordinator of Queers and Allies said, “We loved him as a senator … he’s totally a representative of conservative students.”
But according to Wert, “He doesn’t identify as a minority student, and he doesn’t believe in multiculturalism like the multicultural students do.”
He says Smith’s ideas were opposite to the group he was representing.
“He hasn’t taken a whole lot of effort to let us know who he is; no one knew he was our representative,” Wert said. “When our representative is our largest opponent there’s a problem.”
Wert explained that Sen. Smith opposed a resolution (at a student senate meeting January 21) in support of same sex marriage.
Smith argues that, “In every culture, in every ethnicity their are a diversity of ideas.” He continued by stating that these groups should have the ability within them to entertain a diversity of viewpoints.
He also added that what constitutes “representation” is not defined in the constitution.
In response to whether it’s a problem that he’s resigned, Wert said, “I don’t think so. We have a great bunch of people on the senate.”
The multicultural clusters still have representation on the senate with Sens. Caine Lowery, Jenny Sevilla and Eric Kamwetti.
A new official student representative for the multicultural cluster will be on the senate after student elections. Aaleya Spence is currently running unopposed as a senator representing the multicultural cluster.
The Student Publication Board will be meeting today to determine who will take over editorship of The Spectator.