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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Gould publishes article calling out ‘the social justice mob’

Former VSG Presidential Candidate Jordan Gould detailed his opinion on the role of the Elections Commission, the actions of the other campaign and the university’s oversight of the election.
kirkland+hall
Anjali Chanda
Photo of cherry blossom trees outside of Kirkland Hall. (Hustler Multimedia/Anjali Chanda)

Former VSG Presidential Candidate Jordan Gould published a Medium article on March 30 sharing his experience as a part of the VSG presidential election. 

This year’s election season was met with an unprecedentedly high number of campaign violations, per deputy elections commissioner Jordyn Perry. Ultimately, students elected juniors Hannah Bruns and Kayla Prowell March 24 after the withdrawal of the Jordan Gould/Amisha Mittal ticket. Gould dropped out of the race after admitting to being present at North/South week hosted by Sigma Chi. Mittal later wrote a letter to the editor on The Hustler March 28, apologizing for her role in the campaign.

Gould’s article prompted a response letter from senior Ember Tharpe as well as reactions from those referenced in the article.

Gould declined to comment.

When the Social Justice Mob Came for Me

Gould’s article, titled “When the Social Justice Mob Came for Me,” began with a discussion of his upbringing in Miami, Florida, prior to delving into the controversy that ensued following his campaign for VSG president.

“My family is Jewish and middle-income, from Miami, Florida. Because my parents valued my education, they encouraged me to attend a private high school. I was only able to do this by applying for and receiving financial aid,” Gould said in the article.

Gould was serving as chairman of the Economic Inclusivity Committee when he decided to run for president of VSG. He said he had “built a reputation for getting things done,” citing his leadership of initiatives including the winter break housing assistance program to house and feed students during the pandemic, the student financial resource guide, student healthcare reimbursement and discounted Lyft rides to the airport. 

“Sixty-six percent of the students here are like me; they have the grades, but they can’t afford the tuition,” Gould said. “So I joined the student government’s Economic Inclusivity Committee to help low-income and first-generation students.”

While Gould states he was encouraged to run and amassed the 250 signatures necessary to become an official ticket, it was the first day of campaigning that things began to go awry. He claims negative comments started circulating after a Hustler article was published with details of his involvement in greek life. 

Gould described receiving negative messages on Twitter and in group messages in which he or his campaign were called a “white supremacist” or “racist.”

“I felt hopeless,” Gould said. “It was a level of fear I couldn’t even process. Everything I had worked for was destroyed, and so was my reputation. I felt like I could never come back from this.”

Gould challenged students to consider how, when “weaponized,” social justice can be counterproductive.

“When the social justice mob came for me, I was forced into an unsafe space where no one could see my suffering,” Gould said. 

Gould also noted that he wishes his peers had expressed their anger in what he felt would have been a more constructive way

“Instead of calling out for public humiliation and shaming, let’s follow the wisdom of Professor Loretta J. Ross, who advocates ‘calling in instead of calling out,” Gould said. “Calling in allows us to build understanding with others and offer them a seat at the table in the hopes of creating authentic connections.”

The Elections Commission

In his article, Gould expressed frustration towards the Elections Commission’s enforcement of rules he feels are in place “to cultivate a safe space so students can model collegiality and civility.”

“The student deputy election commissioner, who was supposed to be impartial and enforce the rules, joined the opposition and participated in the vitriolic shaming and blaming,” Gould said. “She violated the very rules she was supposed to enforce.”

The Hustler reached out to the deputy elections commissioner referenced, Jordyn Perry, for comment. Perry is a Sports staffer on The Hustler.

“On behalf of the elections commission, I would like to say many of the statements in [Jordan’s article] were blatantly false,” Perry said. “It is not true that there was no action taken, and it is not true that I specifically was biased against Jordan and Amisha’s campaign.”

She further elaborated on the goals of the Elections Commission, stating that the commission does not stand for discrimination of any kind namely racism, anti-semitism, mysogynoir or xenophobia. 

University’s Response

Gould also expressed frustration at what he felt was a lack of proper oversight from the university.

“Despite these clear rules meant to engender civic discourse, the university did nothing when the other candidates’ social media attacks rained down on me,” Gould said.

A university spokesperson stated in a message to The Hustler that the Equal Opportunity and Access office is investigating all formal complaints sent to them regarding the election and will subsequently take appropriate action based on the outcome of their investigation. 

“There were a number of troubling developments related to the most recent student government election and we are working with our students to address these,” the spokesperson said. “At the same time, we respect students’ autonomy to create, sustain and lead organizations as part of their college experience.”

Response from Bruns & Prowell

Gould also wrote that “the other candidates were elected, unopposed, despite their repeated disregard for the election rules,” commenting on the emotional effect the election had on him. 

“I was terrified and anxious,” Gould said. “The attacks were so false and virulent that I began to question my grasp on reality and my sense of self. The opposing campaign was never disciplined; there was absolutely no oversight by the university.”

Gould addressed president-elect Hannah Bruns at the end of his piece.

“A word to the Vandy student government president-elect: You would be surprised to learn how aligned our interests are,” Gould said. “I invite you to work with me as I renew my commitment to chair the student government Economic Inclusivity Committee.”

In response to Gould’s article, Bruns noted her biggest issue with the piece was the use of the term “social justice mob.” 

“One of my biggest problems with the article was specifically the title using ‘social justice mob,’” Bruns said. “I think there [are] some deeply problematic things behind referring to a group of black students who are trying to hold you accountable for your past racist actions as a ‘mob.’”

Ultimately, Bruns said she doesn’t want to let Jordan’s letter piece distract from her new responsibilities and focus on turnover in VSG. 

“Kayla and I are just really focused on what we’re going to do next year, what we’re going to do when we come into office, that’s where our focus is. I didn’t try to give that article too much attention because we’re starting to get into turnover, and that’s where I want my focus to be right now,” Bruns said. 

Response Letter to Jordan Gould

On March 31, senior Ember Tharpe published a Medium article titled “Letter to Jordan Gould” in response to Gould’s statement. Tharpe described feeling “sick” and “nauseous” when she first read Gould’s article.

“People really underestimate the emotional experience of racism,” Tharpe said. “I think people have gotten so many stereotypes in their head that they almost believe that Black people are built for pain, Black people are built to experience racism, that’s just out natural place. People don’t really think about what it’s like to actually experience something like that.”

In her response, Tharpe began with a discussion of her experience growing up as a young Black girl. 

“Always, I’ve been an emphatic and incredibly outgoing individual—so it was with full confidence and spunk that my small, big eyed, five year old self approached my teachers in anticipation of open arms and warm hugs,” Tharpe said in her piece. “I learned quite quickly that this treatment was not for me.”

She then transitioned into the role race played in the election, oftentimes addressing Jordan directly. 

“You can be wrong, Jordan. You can be really, really, wrong and upset a lot of people with your actions,” Tharpe said in the piece. “But rather than attacking the character of your critics, whether they were ‘civil’ about it or not, you have the opportunity to question: why were people so angry with me?”

Similar to Bruns, Tharpe spoke to the theme of holding people accountable for their actions. 

“I, like others, am motivated to hold accountable any person I encounter from now on that attempts to perpetuate these lies,” Tharpe said in the piece. “We are speaking up for the kids that will come after us, because no child should have to grapple with their worth over the actions of ignorant adult.”

Tharpe is hopeful that future VSG elections can be improved as a result of everything that transpired this year and these letters being shared. 

“I hope that it will have an impact. I think it will have a really big impact for the next couple of years,” Tharpe said. “I hope that this has a legacy so that when everyone who was here for this graduates the culture on campus is a little bit different.”

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About the Contributors
Charlotte Mauger, Staff Writer
Charlotte Mauger ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in public policy with a minor in French. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her on FaceTime with her cats, watching movies or exploring all Nashville has to offer. You can reach her at [email protected].
Anjali Chanda, Former Staff Photographer
Anjali Chanda (’23) is from Beverly, MA. She is majoring in sociology and English with a focus in creative writing. In the past, she wrote for the Arts and Society Section of the Greyhound Newspaper at Loyola University Maryland. In her free time, she can be found painting, writing stories, or rewatching New Girl. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (3)

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F
2 years ago

good sharing many thanks      

T
Tony Stark
2 years ago

He lied, and that was wrong. The way he was treated by the supporters of the opposing campaign was beyond disgusting. This school is going to hell

A
A Member of the Social Justice Mob
2 years ago

Because I disagreed with Gould’s actions of outright lying, something he himself admitted on the “apology video” he posted and then deleted, I guess to him I’m a member of “social justice mob.” It’s a label I wear as a badge of honor if being a member means calling out a liar when you see him.