NISG President speaks out

EMMA'LE MAAS, Executive Editor

Trigger Warning: The following article contains mention of a report of sexual misconduct.

On Feb. 18 current NISG President Elle Boeding posted on her personal blog website a statement calling for students to not vote for Mohammed Shamir Butt this election season.

In her opening line, Boeding stated, “Speaking truth to power is scary. But, the thought of not speaking my truth and not doing all I can to protect and inform UNI students is far scarier.”

Boeding wrote about personal experience with Butt, spanning back to her own campaign in 2020.

Whilst campaigning in Maucker Union, Boeding describes an event that took place: “… he interrupted me when I began to talk about our plans for equity-based initiatives. ‘Don’t you think students of color make everything about diversity? Don’t you think Black students think they should get all the attention?’”

Boeding focused on the environment in which helped Butt gain his current platform, “I am sad that our campus has rewarded his behavior and ‘leadership,’ when in reality he has been the farthest thing from a leader.”

She continued, “I do not even hate him; really, I am indifferent towards him, but I am not indifferent towards this cause. For far too long on this campus, we have let bad men take and take and take –– with no accountability. Shamir is a symptom of a system that is long broken, and this ends with me.”

Boeding also shared a call to action for students, “I implore you to consider what you are looking for in a leader and evaluate carefully. My values do not elect leaders who have crossed boundaries to make women feel unsafe. My values do not elect leaders who publicly claim social justice values, but in conversation disparage those advocating for change.  Your vote matters.  Your voice matters.”

In conclusion to her post, Boeding added the hashtag #SupportSurvivorsUNI which by post time had received mass attention across the university. 

Several other students posted about their own experiences with Butt, including opposing candidate Samantha Bennett.

Bennett posted to her own social media, recounting harassment she had experienced in the past by Butt.

“I had an encounter with Muhammad Shamir Butt last year at an eating establishment on the Hill. He was seated near the entrance, noticeably intoxicated, and upon seeing me immediately began to detail in crude language how he could get me to sleep with him if he wanted me to.”

Bennett continued, “I corrected him, telling him that was not the case, and declined his invitations to sleep with him. I was extremely uncomfortable and became even more so when he asked if he could get a hug. I said no and took a step away, but that did not stop him from getting up and attempting to grab me.”

Bennett finished her recount, “I had to walk around a table to put distance between us as he was not taking no for an answer. He then gave up in his pursuit shortly after and left, leaving me shaken up from the encounter.”

Following her statement, Bennett discussed her feelings whilst running in the race “Since he entered this NISG race I haven’t been able to enjoy the experience of running for Student Body President like I had hoped…”

She continued, “I am devastated that I have had to lose a part of this special experience…. And I am heartbroken for all the other individuals who have suffered because of this man as well.” 

She concluded, “It will never be fair he has done this to us.”

Since Boeding’s original post, several organizations have reposted, including the University’s greek life social media responding with a statement supporting survivors on campus of sexuall harassment and assault. 

At post time, the original tweet featuring Boeding’s post had over 80 retweets.

Butt and his team have not responded to the allegations as of post time.