The Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee will consider a resolution at its upcoming summer meeting which would throw its support behind University of North Alabama Student Government Association president Jake Statom over some students’ calls for his resignation over a social media post he made to his personal account.
Signatures were sought for a petition demanding Statom resign as head of the UNA student body after he reposted an Instagram post which displayed an image of a rainbow T-shirt that read, “Born this way? You must be born again.” Statom has since offered a public apology to those he may have offended.
Lauderdale County GOP chairman Josh Dodd is the resolution’s sponsor.
The resolution reads as follows:
WHEREAS Jake Statom, an engineering major from Tuscumbia, was elected president of the University of North Alabama Student Government Association (“SGA”) in February, 2021; and,
WHEREAS Statom reposted an Instagram post about the “LGBTQ” agenda and added a statement that sought to promote traditional morals and biblical values; and,
WHEREAS some students responded to Statom’s comment, which was made on his personal social media account, with a petition demanding his resignation from the SGA presidency by June 30, 2021, and threatening impeachment proceedings if he did not concede to their demands; and,
WHEREAS Statom released a video statement apologizing to those who might have been hurt by his online comment and committed to being more thoughtful and considerate of differing perspectives; and,
WHEREAS a student-led counter petition supporting Statom’s right to free speech and expression garnered more signatures than the one that issued threats of political reprisals; and,
WHEREAS the university environment is traditionally one which promotes the free and open exchange of ideas – both conservative and liberal – and protects an individual’s right to their own religious beliefs, values, and moral standards; and,
WHEREAS the dangerous “Cancel Culture” atmosphere that predominates on college campuses both in Alabama and across the country seeks to silence opinions that are deemed to be politically unacceptable to leftist ideologues and punish those who continue to adhere to traditional values, especially those rooted in fundamental religious teachings; and,
WHEREAS Statom committed no impeachable offense by simply exercising the basic freedoms of opinion, expression, and religion that are guaranteed to all Americans under the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution; and,
WHEREAS the Governor Kay Ivey signed HB498, sponsored by Representative Matt Fridy, into law in 2019, which included language emphasizing, “freedom of expression is critically important during the education experience of students, and [that] each public institution of higher education should ensure free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation for students.”
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we, the members of the Alabama Republican Party, support Jake Statom’s right to express and promote his personal beliefs in the public square and recognize his voluntary willingness to apologize to those he may have offended; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we strongly oppose any effort to impeach, remove, or apply political pressure from students or members of the faculty and staff intended to force Jake Statom from the presidency of the University of North Alabama SGA.
The proposed resolution comes after the State House GOP in June passed a resolution of its own defending Statom from calls for his resignation. Shoals-area Republican lawmakers have publicly backed Statom in the matter.
UPDATE 12:40 p.m.:
In a statement to Yellowhammer News, resolution sponsor Josh Dodd detailed what he sees as the need to combat what many describe as “cancel culture” and for conservatives to publicly support Statom’s free speech and religious liberty protections.
“In light of the fact that the SGA Senate at UNA is considering impeachment of President Jake Statom at their first meeting on August 26th, I think it is important that we show solidarity in support of Jake and his right to speak freely about his personal religious beliefs on his personal page,” said Dodd. “Our Founders considered the right to free speech and freedom of religion so important that they fought the Revolutionary War for them. We don’t need to let the “cancel culture” trample all over Jake’s constitutional rights that many have fought for and defended.”
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL