After 'blackface' discussion, BSU endorses Weinstein
The Black Student Union decided to endorse Josh Weinstein '09 for USG president late Sunday night despite concerns raised last week by the release of photos showing the candidate in a costume considered by some to be racially insensitive.
The endorsement comes after the group held an open forum Saturday afternoon with Weinstein, currently USG vice president, and his opponent, U-Council chair Sarah Langberg '09, to discuss the implications of the photos and the USG's overall representation of minority students' issues. Voting ends today at noon.
BSU vice president Davion Chism '09 notified The Daily Princetonian of the group's endorsement late Sunday night, and the BSU executive board announced it to the group today via email. "After much deliberation and careful thought," the email said, "the Black Student Union has decided to endorse Josh Weinstein for USG President. Josh represents the candidate that can best represent the Black Student Union and its members."
Weinstein first approached the BSU for an endorsement on Nov. 26. But, after photos showing him wearing black face-paint and dark clothing were posted on ivygateblog.com, a website that covers the Ivy League, the group held off on endorsing either candidate.
The BSU issued a statement at the open forum discussion raising the concern that Weinstein "may be incapable of representing the constituency that the Black Student Union represents."
But Weinstein's apology and promises to foster dialogue about racial issues and diversity on campus have assuaged the BSU's concerns, Chism said. "We decided to endorse Josh because he did convey the fact that he was remorseful about the incident that occurred. Also, he has promised to continue talks about race relations. We believe that Josh possesses the qualities necessary to efficiently and effectively lead our University."
Though the forum was organized out of concern by many members of the black community on campus, the endorsement and the opinions of several students interviewed suggest that Weinstein's apologies may have been adequate and that the controversy may have been unnecessarily escalated.
"I think the point is that it's overblown," Noelle Vinson '10 said. "But people should take into consideration the implications of their actions, especially if they are going to be in a position of such power and authority in the University."
Not all students consider the issue completely resolved, however. Despite the BSU's endorsement of Weinstein, some are still hesitant to vote for him. Charles Wright '11, who was planning to vote for Weinstein, has been reconsidering his decision after hearing about the incident.
"I don't think he's a racist, but it makes me question his knowledge of the racial history of America. To not know that it's offensive is not a good thing," Wright said.
Ghanasyam Bey '10 was initially upset by the photos but satisfied by Weinstein's apologies and explanations.
"I heard about it and my initial reaction was that it was something that was really bad, and we definitely should not support Josh Weinstein," he said. "But I finally looked at [the photos and post on IvyGate] myself and I saw his response ... I didn't think it was that bad or that big of a deal, and that the issue could easily be taken out of hand."
Weinstein said in an email that he is "extremely grateful for the BSU's endorsement, as their support is integral to my vision of helping student groups."
Langberg, who had also hoped for the BSU's support, said that yesterday's endorsement was "a testament to [Weinstein's] resolve."
The statement released by the BSU also pledged to hold Weinstein accountable for encouraging racial discourse on campus if he is elected USG president, stating that it charged him to "uphold his promise and to continue the discussions of race relations and race insensitivity on campus."
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