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Georgetown University Graduate Student Government Vice President Heerak Kim filed an official complaint with the university Feb. 10 accusing two GradGov officials of discrimination and harassment based on his religious and political leanings.
Kim submitted a complaint to the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action against GradGov President Lewis May and GradGov supervisor Owen Agho the day after GradGov scheduled Kim’s impeachment hearing. GradGov decided to pursue impeachment after tweets from Kim containing Islamophobic, racist, antisemitic and homophobic language surfaced in January, according to a GradGov Executive Board statement.
GradGov unfairly punished Kim for voicing his Christian and conservative beliefs, Kim wrote in his email to IDEAA.
“It is wrong that I am discriminated against by GradGov and the Office of Graduate Enrichment of The Graduate School, based on my RELIGION (conservative evangelical Christianity) and my POLITICAL AFFILIATION (Republican Party),” Kim wrote in his email obtained by The Hoya. “It is wrong that I was treated with violence (physical assault) because of my religion and political affiliation. The physical assault by Mr. Lewis May represents Hate Crime against me.”
At a Jan. 30 GradGov Senate meeting, May reportedly confronted Kim outside of the room at the start of the meeting, according to Kim’s IDEAA complaint. Kim alleges that Agho ordered May to prevent Kim from entering and that May physically assaulted him during the confrontation. When Kim reported the physical altercation to Agho the next day, Agho ignored the charge, Kim wrote.
Kim’s description mischaracterizes the severity of the interaction, according to May.
“Apparently at one point in the conversation I, like, booped him in the chest, sort of for emphasis, and he was like, ‘Oh, you physically assaulted me,’ and then called for my resignation,” May said in an interview with The Hoya on Feb. 4.
May denies all of Kim’s accusations, Joseph Scrofano, May’s lawyer, wrote on behalf of his client.
“We have no comment at this time other than to say Mr. Kim’s allegations are completely false. Mr. Kim is abusing the legal process,” Scrofano wrote in an email to The Hoya. “An associate judge in the District of Columbia Superior Court denied his frivolous motion for a temporary restraining order this morning.”
Agho serves as the associate director of graduate student affairs in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Agho was out of the office at the time of publication and could not be reached for comment.
GradGov’s calls for Kim’s resignation represented a coordinated attempt to punish him for his opinions, he wrote.
“On Saturday, February 1, 2020, Mr. Lewis May emailed me a demand to resign from my post from Vice PResident of GradGov. This represents retaliation for my having reported his physical assault the day before,” Kim wrote in his message. “Mr. Lewis May acted with support and endorsement of Mr. Owen Agho, the Supervisor of GradGov. Thus, Mr. Owen Agho participated in retaliation against me for filing report of physical assault motivated by discrimination against me for my RELIGION and POLITICAL AFFILIATION.”
Once an IDEAA complaint has been submitted, IDEAA staff members assess the complaint and determine necessary action. Staff members can decide to mediate between the involved parties or pursue further investigation into the complaint, according to the IDEAA Grievance Procedures to Investigate Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prevents IDEAA from commenting on an ongoing investigation, according to the IDEAA Grievance Procedures.
Before initiating impeachment, the GradGov Executive Board denounced Kim’s tweets and called for his immediate resignation in a letter Feb. 1. After Kim declined to resign, GradGov circulated a petition among GradGov senators to initiate impeachment proceedings Feb. 3.
The petition to proceed with the impeachment process met the 60-signature threshold Feb. 9, according to GradGov Director of Advocacy Henry Watson, who was appointed by May to oversee the impeachment process. An impeachment vote is scheduled for the GradGov Senate meeting Feb. 20, Watson wrote in an email to The Hoya
At the Feb. 20 meeting, Kim will have the opportunity to speak to the senate to refute the claims, according to the GradGov Constitution. A majority vote of senators present is then needed to remove Kim.
A graduate student contacted GradGov on Jan. 18, notifying them of inappropriate tweets posted on Kim’s public Twitter account, such as the following Jan. 2 and Jan. 17 tweets.
“Do you think Iowa’s farmers will experience adverse Acts of God if they support Pete Buttieg, who pushes Transgenderism and gay rights in America as his top priority? No Rain? Harsh weather? Locusts? Look at what Act of God is doing in Australia,” a Jan. 2 tweet reads.
“Is the National Republican Party going to become a SLAVE of the JEWS and go after every Republican leaders whom the Jews call “anti-Semitic”? Jesus is anti-Semitic because Jesus Christ called Jews “Children of the Devil” in the Gospel of John! Will you oust Jesus from America?” a Jan. 17 tweet reads.
Kim has served as GradGov vice president since he was elected in 2019 after running unopposed. Kim, a second-year master’s student in the School of Nursing & Health Studies, is also running for Congress in Virginia’s 8th District as a Republican candidate.
The location of the impeachment hearing, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Feb. 20, has not yet been confirmed, according to Watson. The meeting will be open to all graduate students.
Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949), Counseling and Psychiatric Services (202-687-6985) and the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access (202-687-4054). Additional off-campus resources include The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth (866-488-7386).