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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

ASUCD senator announces opposition to working with president


Htoo accuses Gofman of disrespect, Gofman denies allegations

In a Sept. 27 letter addressed to members of ASUCD, Senator Ko Ser Lu Htoo announced their intention to boycott President Michael Gofman’s State of the Association Address. Htoo stated that Gofman was “disrespectful to members of the LGBTQIA community, minorities and refuse[s] to listen to members of this Association.”

I oppose this president,” Htoo said in the letter. “I don’t honor this president. I don’t respect this president. I am not going to attend and I am not going to pretend like I have a good working relationship with him.”

In a subsequent interview with The California Aggie, Htoo said Gofman has been disrespectful to members of the LGBTQIA community, including them.

Gofman denied these allegations, stating three individuals who ran on his ASUCD slate are members of the LGBTQIA community.

“These are people that I have had long-lasting personal and professional friendships with,” Gofman said. “The reason why I am uneasy with this whole situation is, reading throughout this email, there isn’t a single concrete example of anything.”

Htoo said Gofman has refused to use inclusive, gender-neutral language.

“My entire job is to reach out to different people, groups and communities on this campus and establish relationships for the sake of ASUCD between these groups,” Gofman said. “This idea that I am not willing to work with communities is fundamentally false, and there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows it is false.”

When asked what it would take for a reconciliation, Gofman said it’s “a combination of taking some time to let things diffuse on their own” and not holding grudges.

“I don’t really take things too personally,” Gofman said. “If there comes a time a time when we can all work together, I am excited for it because the association as a whole would be more effective.”

Htoo said Gofman must listen to people — ”whenever we offer advice” and “whenever we propose something to listen.”

Htoo said that they would like to see Gofman attend more community events put on by diverse communities and meetings held with commissions such as the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission (ECAC).

“If I have the chance to work with him, what he needs to do is start paying attention to [Rina Singh] who is the ECAC chair,” Htoo said. “[Singh] and I work together a lot to make sure we [raise awareness] about racism, ethnicity and international issues. We are going to be having a series of workshops to educate domestic and international students about [these] issues.”

Htoo hopes Gofman will participate in these workshops and work with them on issues that affect marginalized groups.

“As I have stated on almost every single occasion [that] has come up since I have taken office, my door is generally always open,” Gofman said. “I welcome anyone in here if they want to have a productive conversation about anything. If there are any bills or issues that Ko needs my help on and needs me to approve them, then certainly I am not going to factor in what has turned into a personal disagreement into that.”

ASUCD Vice President Shaniah Branson was asked how Htoo and Gofman can resolve their differences.

“I fully respect Senator Htoo’s stance on not working with President Gofman,” Branson said via email. “However, I have made evident to them both that although they do not need to [be] the best of friends within ASUCD, they should be willing (or more than willing) to work together productively. Our main focus, as an Association, should be the students.”


Written by: George Liao — campus@theaggie.org



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