Regan Putnam is the president of the Queer Alliance Resource Center, the student activist group that has helped to coordinate the witch hunt against student senator Isabella Chow at UC Berkeley.
In the article from the San Francisco Chronicle, Putnam is quoted as follows:
“She could have merely abstained. But she took it upon herself to go into this long dialogue, talking about marriage between a man and a woman, and shrouding hate in ‘love.’ Nobody asked her to explain her vote. Nobody who voted ‘yes’ had to explain their vote.”
This quote was then picked up by several other news reports.
Putnam is trying to make it sound as if Chow would not be on the receiving end of all these attacks and demands if only she had remained silent and abstained in silence. So, in other words, keep your mouth shut or else.
That’s bad enough, but there is more to it. The whole notion that the problem is Chow’s brief speech, not the abstention, is dishonest spin.
Before demonstrating the dishonesty, we should tend to the low hanging fruit. It did not escape my notice that a supposedly educated student from UC Berkeley is under the impression that Chow was engaged in a “dialogue.” I suppose this is just further evidence of the decline of UC Berkeley.
As far as the dishonesty goes, recall that Putnam is the president of the Queer Alliance Resource Center, which is also the very same group that put out the petition that demands Isabella Chow resign (the petition that got over a thousand signatures). Let’s have a look at that petition, shall we?
WHY DOES QARC BELIEVE THAT SENATOR CHOW’S VOTE IS ENOUGH TO CALL FOR HER RESIGNATION?
Huh? But Putnam said, “She could have merely abstained.” The petition demands she resign because she “merely abstained”. It’s “enough” to call for her resignation. Certainly the president of the group that put out the petition knows what it says.
In this case, it’s very important to note that while Senator Chow abstained from voting, her abstention still counted towards the quorum as a whole; for the ASUC Senate to pass a resolution, there needs to be a ⅔ majority—Chow’s abstention still counted towards the total vote count, even if she didn’t actively vote “against” the resolution. In other words: in the ASUC, an active abstention essentially acts like a vote “against,” in that it contributes to the whole without actively “taking a side” (so to speak).
Considering that Senator Chow is actively against LGBTQ+ rights, as well as “legal protections for victims of sexual violence, reproductive and health/wellness resources, and community spaces for vulnerable members of our student body,” her abstention on a symbolic vote affirming the validity of transgender and non-binary students under on campus under Title IX are a cause for broader concern.
Even more, Senator Chow skirts the line of violating in spirit (and might even technically violate) the ASUC’s constitution Article XI Section 7:
“The ASUC shall provide equitable access to all services and opportunities. In particular, the Association shall not engage in, promote, sponsor, or fund any activities or organizations which inequitably disadvantage people based on their identities or characteristics including, but not limited to, race or color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy or parenthood status, disability, medical condition, genetic information, immigration status, academic status, socioeconomic status, military or veteran status, political activity or belief, criminal record or status, or status as a survivor of harassment, assault, stalking, or domestic violence.”
Does abstaining from a vote but still contributing to the overall vote tally—particularly in situations where resources and funding are potentially on the line—count as engaging the inequitable disadvantaging of marginalized identities?
Being a passive bystander is still a choice; and in the case of the ASUC and Isabella Chow, an abstention doesn’t even count as a passive vote—it is the same as an active vote against.
Yep. Merely abstaining is what this is all about. What’s that? Not convinced? There’s more:
Even more? Y’dont’ say…
Senator Chow’s abstention on this symbolic resolution points to a larger, more serious trend in how she will vote on other issues that she is personally against, especially considering her power as an ASUC senator who decides student funding—which in turn provides the tangible resources necessary for many students to navigate and thrive in this university. Her abstention on this resolution sets precedence for her abstention on other, related issues, particularly those that would negatively affect students of other marginalized identities and those in precarious situations.
Crystal clear. Thank you. The demand for Chow’s resignation is all about her abstaining. Recall that the Queer Alliance Resource Center went to the student Senate and insisted the Senate take a symbolic vote on this. Chow actually refused to play along and refused to endorse the transgender ideology. She refused to accept it, to embrace it, to champion it. Heresy. And for THAT, she needs to resign.
I, for one, appreciate Chow’s stand (and courage). It shines the light on the hardcore extremism of the transgender movement. We are talking about a movement that demands total allegiance to its point of view such that a mere abstention is viewed as betrayal and deserves massive push back. A movement that will shove its moral code down anyone’s and everyone’s throat and is willing to use whatever power it has to accomplish that. Radicalized, pro-censorship, wild eyed, self-righteous, closed-minded, extremism.
As one who values tolerance, open-mindedness, critical thinking, and free speech, I’m proud to say I would never have signed that petition. But it is useful for accurately defining the essence of the transgender movement and screen shots of it will likely come in handy in the future.