College Republicans president faces fallout from tweet

Nick Hadjigeorge

Lauren Pierce, president of the UT College Republicans and secretary of the statewide Texas College Republicans, is facing the consequences of a tweet she posted voicing her opinion about President Barack Obama and referencing the gunfire directed at the White House last Friday.

“Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama,” Pierce said in her tweet. “We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had! #2012.”

Pierce’s tweet followed the news of the Pennsylvania State Police’s arrest of 21-year-old Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez in connection with the White House gunfire incident. Last Friday, gunshots were reported in front of the White House and bullets were found on White House grounds, according to the Associated Press. An assault-style rifle and empty shell cases were found in a car which were all tied to the suspect after shots were reported.

Pierce later apologized on Twitter, saying she regrets publishing the tweet and that it was in poor taste.

“It’s never funny to joke about such a serious matter,” Pierce tweeted. “I have learned a very valuable lesson.”

John Chapman, public relations director for the UT College Republicans, said the organization has asked her to resign from both of her positions because the language used in her message was contrary to their principles.

“Our message is to foster professional and respectful discussion at the University,” Chapman said. “Even though we might disagree with Obama, implying or attempting to commit violence is not positive, constructive or acceptable discussion.”

Chapman said Pierce was unavailable for comment about the tweet.

Chapman said the public’s reaction to the tweet is a lesson for all to understand the implications of statements made on social media sites.

“This is going to make people sit back and think, ‘Hey, I need to think before I post this,’” Chapman said. “What you say on Twitter is very public and can reflect on yourself and the organization you represent.”

Chapman said a temporary president will be appointed to serve until the organization’s general elections take place at the end of this semester.

Cameron Miculka, vice president of the UT University Democrats, said all Texans should condemn Pierce’s tweet regardless of their political affiliation because of the potentially dangerous implications of the message.

“For a UT student to joke about killing the president being ‘tempting’ is nothing short of disgraceful,” Miculka said. “What one individual might see as a joke, another may take as a challenge.”

Government lecturer Shannon Bow O’Brien said she thinks Pierce’s tweet was intended to be funny but was inappropriate nonetheless.

“The president is an elected official, and our system allows us to express opinions through voting, not violence,” Bow O’Brien said. “The student is likely getting a harsh lesson that as the elected president of a group, her voice carries weight.”

Printed on Thursday, November 17, 2011 as: Student leader faces backlash from comment about Obama