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Will there be justice for Dong?
Roughly 500 people sign petition for Helen Dong's reinstatement to SGA
Zhuoqi (Helen) Dong, a former sophomore class representative in the Quinnipiac Student Government Association (SGA) was removed from office Wednesday, Nov. 8 after taking a Taiwanese flag down at the International Business Society’s annual dinner on Monday Oct. 23.
The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) created a petition on change.org over the Thanksgiving break to serve as a follow up to Dong’s removal from SGA office. The petition includes an open letter to the SGA demanding reinstatement for Dong’s case.
Dong is the secretary for CSSA.
“Ms. Dong has a passive tone, but she told us what happened and we wanted to support her so we started this petition,” XiaoBin Shen, President of CSSA, said. “We have gotten great results.”
As of Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 5:30 p.m. the petition had 508 supporters.
Susan Thompson, Monroe, CT: “As the parent of an adopted Chinese daughter, even I have read enough to know that Helen really prevented a potentially very awkward or even incendiary situation by taking the action she did– action that was sanctioned by two of the professors in charge of the event. She should be commended for her quick thinking, not impeached.”
John Johnson, North Haven, CT: “If the SGA is looking to test how far out of line they can overreach, they’re doing a damn fine job of it. Way to show everyone how little power government should be trusted with.”
Yixiang Wang, Boston, MA: “Quinnipiac, Taiwan is NOT recognized as a country by U.S. as well as most of the countries ON THIS PLANET. I will be ok with this if you move your campus to Mars, or you can save the money to have some history classes.”
Parents, Quinnipiac University students and both domestic and international people all over New England and beyond are expressing their support for Dong in the comments section of the ‘Fairness For Dong’ petition.
“Life is crazy,” Dong said. “When you hear the someone has been removed from office, people think they must have done something crazy, violated school policy. But if I received permission (to take the flag down), how could I be violating school policy?”
Shen said that he doesn’t think Dong did anything wrong.
“I think a reinstatement is needed because you cannot impeach and remove Dong, when what she did was right. “Her impeachment was based on assumption, that the Taiwanese people would get offended by Helen’s actions. No Taiwan students have come out and said anything to us (CSSA).”
CSSA is also demanding an apology from SGA to Dong.
This impeachment process is not the first time Dong has felt singled out by members of SGA.
She said that during the SGA general board meetings, the Pledge of Allegiance was on the agenda. Every time, Dong stood up with respect, but did not feel comfortable putting her hand on heart and reciting the pledge.
This past September, Dong was challenged by a former class representative for not saying the pledge of allegiance.
Dong explained to this person that she is not an American and therefore is not required to recite the pledge. The person argued that since Dong goes to school in America, she should be following American practices, according to Dong.
Although Dong came from China to study in Connecticut, she said that she loves her home country and she cannot pledge to another country’s flag.
The person then said, “Then why don’t you just go to school in China?” according to Dong.
“I didn’t expect those brutal comments to come from an elected SGA member,” Dong said. “I had to attend counseling services for a while to regroup myself to continue to serve for the QU student body.”
That SGA member stepped down from office shortly after.
SGA declined to comment.
“I think they (SGA) are right to not comment, but I hope they realize the issue here, the lack of understanding,” Dong said.
Before Dong was voted to be removed from office, SGA passed a bylaw that stated anyone who was removed from SGA office could never run for a position within the organization again. This bylaw’s original language stated that any SGA member who is “impeached is excluded as a member of the Student Government Association for the rest of his/her academic career.” This was changed because impeachment is a process and not a decision, according to SGA VP of Public Relations Victoria Johnson.
“I am the first student in eight years to be removed from office, and they changed the bylaws right before my trial. It is really shocking, and I feel uncomfortable about the whole process,” Dong said.
“Sometimes, I suspected these two incidents might be associated in some way, but I am not sure and I truly hope not,” Dong said.
Dong said that if the student body wants her back in office, she would be delighted.
“If I go back (to SGA) is not up to me, it is up to the student body, because SGA is supposed to represent all of the students, it should be their decision,” Dong said.