When JoJo Dodd, Mississippi State University’s Student Association President, publicly endorsed a candidate to be his successor last week, he faced an outpour of backlash from SA senators who filed a charge of misconduct and called for his impeachment.
In his endorsement, which was posted on his personal Twitter account, Dodd said he was proud to support Roxanne Raven for Student Body President, because “she has the heart, passion and experience” necessary for the job.
“The President of the Student Association is your voice,” he said. “The student body should be able to trust their elected leaders are working hard for them, that they’ve got students’ best interest at heart, and that they’ll work just as hard for a student who looks like them as one who does not…No matter your race, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation or where you come from.”
Dodd’s statements echo his 2015 campaign promises to ensure “every student no matter what” felt included in the Bulldog family.
“If I had chosen to remain silent, I would have given up the voice that I promised would speak up for students who might not be able to,” he said in a public statement on January 26. “This is an effort to punish me for speaking my mind, but no fear of punishment will silence my efforts to make MSU a better place.”
According to a recent report in the “Clarion-Ledger,” the SA judicial council mandated Dodd renounce his statement, acknowledge the unconstitutionality of his actions and apologize to MSU students.
Dodd refused to take down his statement or apologize. Although he was not impeached, he lost access to the official MSU SA President’s twitter account and two months of pay. He also lost his capacity to veto senate actions.
“It’s always a learning experience and no one president is perfect,” said Malik Ross, a sophomore business administration major who campaigned for Dodd in 2015 and served on his cabinet as co-director of research and development.
“He’s shown us he’s willing to follow through his promises from his campaign,” Ross said. “He’s been a very personable, very approachable president. He picked a very diverse cabinet and truly values what everyone thinks.”
Although Ross said he respects the “unwavering” nature of MSU’s constitution and justice system, he fully supports Dodd’s actions and believes his concerns about diversity and inclusion are “noble.”
Dodd’s unprecedented actions have inspired speculation from other campus governments, including Southern Miss’s Student Government Association.
“Mr. Dodd violated the SA bylaws and therefore is subject to the consequences contained in those same bylaws,” said Edward Miller, chair of sustainability and senator for the College of Arts and Letters. “It is very unfortunate that [he] might lose his position but maybe this event will promote a change to their bylaws or at least make the other executive officers and students more aware of the rules,” Miller said. “That being said, I am glad that he is standing firm in voicing his opinion and he should be able to express it.”