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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Resolution 42 questions Smith’s ban from coliseum

Resolution 42 questions Smith’s ban from coliseum
Resolution 42 questions Smith’s ban from coliseum

On Feb. 4 in the Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State University men’s basketball team played The University of Tennessee. At halftime, Houston Smith, a sophomore education major, was ejected from the basketball game due to his use of explicit language directed towards the referees. 
“Y’all are so f***ing bad, it’s embarrassing,” Smith said directed towards the referees. After his remark, a referee turned to Jay Logan, associate athletic director for event and facilities management, and pointed Smith out. Smith was then told to leave the game.
On Feb. 7, Smith had an administrative hearing with dean of students Taber Mullen and admitted to the charges against him. He was told his punishment was banishment from the Humphrey Coliseum and all MSU basketball games for the remainder of the 2016-2017 season and was placed on disciplinary probation until May 15, 2017. Smith was told he could appeal the decision.
Student Association Senators Taylor Thomas and Nathan Usry, along with almost a dozen other senators, presented Resolution 42 to the SA Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 14.  Resolution 42 requested the University to annul Smith’s “disciplinary probation, treating his sentence as completed.” The resolution passed with 22 out of 33 votes. 
There is a sportsmanship reminder at every home basketball which reads, “Vulgar, abusive or demeaning language, or disorderly conduct are unacceptable and unwelcome here at Humphrey Coliseum. Let’s afford the student athletes, coaches, officials and your fellow fans the respect they deserve.”
Thomas, senior industrial engineering major, who presented Resolution 42 said the SA exists to be a liaison between students and administration and emphasized the importance for SA to represent the student body. He said he would not have known of Smith’s punishment if it had not been for the publicity it received on social media. A hashtag and petition was started after his banishment from games labeled #FreeHouston and “Free Houston Smith” at www.thepetitionsite.com/442/330/517/free-houston-smith/?taf_id=33727842&cid=fb_na#bbfb=621651166.
“This is an opportunity for the senate to seek justice for one of the students we were elected to represent,” Thomas said. “We don’t want to tell the administration how to do their job, but instead want to work together with them to ensure the student’s punishment is just.”
Smith said the SA approached him and told him they were working on some things but he did not know any specifics of it, nor did he ask them for their support.
“I’m very flattered that the SA, a representation of the student body, has decided to support me,” Smith said. 
Usry, senior biological sciences major, said the SA Senate respectfully disagreed with the measures taken against Smith.
“We [SA Senate] decided as elected representatives of the student body that it is our job to be a voice for a student who is facing what so many consider unfair sanctions,” Usry said.
Hunt Walne, vice president of SA and senior agronomy major, said he was proud of the debate surrounding Resolution 42.
“I am excited to see students passionate about issues that are pertinent to everyday student life, and proud to see them stand up for a fellow student,” Walne said.
Logan Reeves, SA senator and primary opposition to Resolution 42 along with senators Layton Little and Emily Crace, said he believes that by approving the resolution, the SA disregarded MSU administration’s decisions concerning students.
“In my opinion, sending this resolution to university administrators will severely weaken the standing of the Student Association in the eyes of those whom we depend to create the change our students desire,” Reeves said.   
Reeves said Smith must have accepted his punishment or was presented before a hearing with five MSU students who determined him to be guilty. He said MSU’s message about sportsmanship before every home game makes it clear that Smith’s removal from the coliseum was appropriate based on his conduct.
Thomas said Smith did not appeal the decision made regarding his punishment because appeals can only be made if there is new evidence or an error in the procedure, which does not include wrongful punishment. He said this is something the SA would like to see change as a result of their resolution.
SA Attorney General Gavin King and senior music major, said the most important reason he supports the resolution is because he believes the appealing process in the Code of Student Conduct is broken, as there must be either new evidence or an error in the proceedings in the ruling.
“Most people agree that what Mr. Smith did was wrong,” King said. “There’s a preponderance of evidence to support that. Furthermore, we have faith that he was treated justly by our administration in the proceedings. What I find to be the problem is that this student cannot appeal his sanction. We are simply asking that the university administrators take a second look at the sanctions they imposed, because many of us don’t believe that they fit the infraction.”
Reeves, senior industrial engineering major, said he was disappointed the SA Senate passed the resolution and believes it was presented based on Smith’s social standing on campus, which brings concerns to the SA accidentally ignoring those who do not have the same social luxury.
Despite his opinions on Resolution 42, Reeves does believe Smith’s punishment is severe and does not fit his actions at the basketball game. 
“It is not my job to decide his punishment; ultimately, it is in the hands of students,” Reeves said. “I am genuinely sorry that Houston has been banned from Humphrey Coliseum for the remainder of the 2016-2017 season, but that sentiment sits separate from my opposition to Resolution 42.”
Smith tweeted a statement regarding his punishment on Feb. 8 in which he thanked people for their support after he was ejected from the game. He said he has not missed a home game since he became a student and that he loves MSU and watching MSU basketball “more than anything.” He wrote, “At the end of the day, I love Mississippi State, and the last thing I want to do is shine a bad light on the place we all love.”
No matter what happens with Resolution 42, Smith supports MSU.
“Regardless of the outcome, I will continue to have the utmost respect for our administration at MSU,” Smith said. “I have a passion for MSU sports and I will continue to support all of our teams.”
The SA will take Resolution 42 and the online petition to the Dean of Students calling the administration to re-evaluate Smith’s punishment.

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Resolution 42 questions Smith’s ban from coliseum