Outrage recently erupted over tweets from a member of the Executive Council of UVUSA, which many found sexist and offensive. Many are asking if this is an appropriate way for a representative to behave, especially when he represents a campus that is 43 percent female.
Joe Jurisic, current vice president of Student Life, tweeted things like, “Don’t tease fat girls, elephants never forget” and “You stupid hoe, you a you stupid hoe.”
Professor Shannon Mussett, the Gender Studies coordinator currently teaching a feminism class, found the tweets offensive.
“It is certainly disappointing that a representative of student government feels that it is acceptable to post degrading and hurtful messages about women in a public forum,” Mussett said.
Mussett, however, doesn’t believe Jurisic should be reprimanded in his role in UVUSA. She does believe students should make a public display of solidarity against his actions.
“What we do outside of our offices is really our own business–no matter how offensive it may be,” Mussett said. “But this does not mean he shouldn’t receive a social reprimand which, in many ways, is more damning than a university censure. Since he employed a public voice of criticism, one can and should be used against him.”
Susan Madsen, director of the Utah Women and Education Project, also expressed disapproval of the tweets.
“It’s inappropriate in every way,” Madsen said. “Civil human beings do not say these things. You just can’t say those things particularly if you are in a leadership position or supervisory position.”
Unlike Mussett, Madsen felt there should be repercussions.
“I think this guy shouldn’t be in leadership at UVU, bottom line,” Madsen said.
Other students have expressed their disapproval of the tweets, including members of the Revolutionary Student Union who have been raising awareness about social issues.
Jacob Hyden and Ikaika Cox, juniors and members of the RSU, were deeply offended by Jurisic’s tweets and were upset that Jurisic tweeted the comments while being in office.
“I’m just disgusted that a person in today’s society can make such comments and not be amazingly unpopular or hated let alone that that person could be a vice president of the student body or an elected official at an university of any kind,” Hyden said.
Jessica Burnham, a senior, an activist and feminist who has worked with women’s rights organizations in the past, and is also an RSU member, expressed concern over the effect Jurisic’s behavior might have on the rest of the campus.
“I’m afraid that he is representing the male view towards women on this campus,” Burnham said.
Burnham was especially concerned considering Jurisic was made Elections Committee Chair this past election.
“The fact that he’s the one holding people accountable and he’s so blatantly sexist, when he is the one who is essentially bringing in the next reign of UVUSA elected students into power is scary,” Burnham said.
Burnham felt there should be some sort of action taken against Jurisic.
“I want to take these tweets and his photo, and make large banners with his face on it and with these phrases and hang them up everywhere around this campus,” Burnham said “And sit outside his office holding these signs and tell him ‘You’re saying this about me.’”
Jurisic stated that the tweets were song lyrics, and he did not find them sexist.
“These are all song lyrics,” Jurisic said. “Do I find them sexist? Not at all. It just happen to be the song I was listening to.”
The song lyrics came from artists such as Ani DiFranco and Nicki Minaj.
“When I’m up at the Capitol, I would never dare say these things. It’s a song that I’m listening to at the time. The song just happens to say these lyrics. I don’t understand what’s wrong with that,” Jurisic said.
Jurisic also denied any wrong doing, stating, “They are offensive to you because you find them offensive,” Jurisic said. “If you find that offensive, that’s your personal choice.”
Jurisic later back stepped his previous statement, explaining that perhaps his tweets were inappropriate but would not go as far as to say they were sexist.
“Do I find that this is inappropriate? In a sense, yes I do. I do find it inappropriate,” Jurisic said. “Do I find it sexist? No.”
Jurisic went on to explain that if people found his tweets to be sexist or offensive, it was because the tweets were being blown out of proportion.
“I agree that people who are over thinking this may find this sexist,” Jurisic said. “But that’s personal choice. That’s them analyzing this way too much.”
While Jurisic remained adamant that his tweets were not sexist, he did claim he was willing to apologize if anyone was offended by the tweets.