USG Tempe senator resigns

Ben Cooper resigned amid issues with resolutions and online arguments with campus political groups

Undergraduate Student Government Tempe Senator for The College Benjamin Cooper resigned from his position. 

Cooper declined to comment on why he resigned, but his resignation comes after four resolutions he co-sponsored were not brought in front of the Senate and after the ASU College Libertarians made a complaint with USGT regarding Cooper's conduct on Twitter, claiming Cooper was "targeting and harassing" the group. 

David Howman, president of the College Libertarians and a graduate student studying justice studies, said the group contacted other senators in USGT after Cooper and the College Libertarians account shared a heated exchange on Twitter. 

"He was repeatedly attacking us and harassing us and using defamatory comments about us as a senator and in his capacity as a senator," Howman said. "There's one tweet where he actually signs his statement about Republicans being white supremacists as a senator."

READ MORE: USGT delays voting on resolutions, holds open discussion among students

Howman said that "the final straw" was when Cooper told the College Libertarians' account to delete its tweets and added the organization saw that as "a way of using his position and his status to try and silence" the College Libertarians. 

However, Cooper said in a tweet that his decision to resign came before the College Libertarians complaint. 

"I already planned on resigning before I was approached by anyone about my interactions with the College Libertarians," the tweet reads. "The actual reasons I made the decision to do so we're totally independent of anything regarding the College Libertarians."

Aside from the content of the tweets, Howman said, he was also concerned about a possible bylaw violation. The USGT bylaws state "Senators and the Senate President shall make every effort to be available to meet with any ASU student should such a request be made." 

"(Cooper) was blocking our members on Twitter, which is a violation of the bylaws as we saw it — where it says that senators need to be as available to all ASU students as possible," Howman said. "We felt that's quite the opposite of being available to talk to them."

Tanzil Chowdhury, the chair of Young Democratic Socialists of America at ASU, said that YDSA, which Cooper vice-chairs, stands behind him. 

"We stand fully behind him and his decision to resign," Chowdhury said, adding that Cooper resigned in part because he wanted to focus on YDSA's work. 

USGT Senate President Dominic Frattura, a senior studying business, confirmed via text message that he "received a letter of resignation from Ben Cooper" on Friday, Nov. 29.

Frattura declined to provide a copy of the letter of resignation, saying that USGT does "not release personnel records." He also said over text that he "never received any formal articles of impeachment for Ben Cooper before his resignation."

Howman said that while he thinks it is unfortunate this situation happened, he is glad to see the response from USGT. 

"The response that we got from the senators in such a quick and timely fashion was really encouraging ... especially given our attempts at working with USG last year, and how that didn't necessarily go as well," Howman said. "Seeing that there was actually quick response and there was actually some form of justice to the situation this time was really encouraging."

Chowdhury, a senior studying materials science and engineering, said Cooper resigned not because of the College Libertarians' complaint but because Cooper was unable to make change through USG. 

"(USG) should be a place where we can debate through issues and ensure that our senators actually get to take part in shaping the way that our campus works," Chowdhury said. "But at the moment, it seems like USG is just a front for giving a sense of student consent to the decisions that the administration has already made."

Editor's Note: Benjamin Cooper was a former State Press employee. He had no involvement with the reporting or writing in this article.


Reach the reporter at krquaran@asu.edu and follow @kiaraquaranta on Twitter. 

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