President of USC’s student government resigns on day of his impeachment hearing

USG President Truman Fritz is stepping down amid claims of racial insensitivity.

Undergraduate Student Government President Truman Fritz resigned Tuesday afternoon via an email. Fritz has been under pressure to leave the powerful position as he has faced accusations of racial insensitivity posted on the @black_at_usc Instagram page. 

“No single person can represent the backgrounds of all 20,000 undergraduate students, but as a person of privilege, I recognize that I lack the lived experiences necessary to adequately represent my peers,” Fritz wrote in his resignation statement. “As the leader of USG, I recognize that accountability is exercised as decisive and tangible action meant to bring diverse voices into positions of power.”

The statement does not call for any specific radical action, but rather encourages USG to “reconsider its priorities on a foundational level.”

Fritz did not address the allegations of racial insensitivity made against him on the @black_at_usc Instagram page.

Early last week, Fritz released a statement on his personal Instagram account apologizing for “restrain[ing] [his] efforts to combat injustice in the past for the sake of the moderate approach to politics” and pledging to renew his commitment “to fight for equity at USC.”

Fritz has since deactivated his Instagram account.

Posting anonymously via a web form, students said that Fritz had used insensitive language during his presidential campaign, specifically, his tendency to place students of color into one category. Fritz was also accused of being seemingly unconcerned with issues pertaining to Black students and of making students uncomfortable with “jokes and the use of certain names.”

Fritz, a senior studying Business Administration, assumed the position on April 7.

An impeachment hearing was scheduled to take place on Tuesday afternoon from 3-5 p.m. It is not clear if it will be canceled entirely following his resignation.

According to the USG Constitution, if the president is unable to finish their term, the vice president will be sworn in as the new president at the next Senate meeting.

Vice President Rose Ritch will be next in line to serve as USG president, but she has faced accusations of racism that sparked an impeachment inquiry as well.

The formal impeachment request and public call for the removal of both Fritz and Ritch was spearheaded by USC senior Global Health major Abeer Tijani on Instagram

Tijani was prompted to file the impeachment request to USG Speaker of the Senate, Gabe Savage, after Fritz failed to respond to two emails Tiajni sent to USG leadership.

“Admittedly, I was disappointed by these allegations, but not shocked. The community that has been built and nurtured at USC has long had a history of committing backhanded and sometimes overt acts of racism that at best, make Black and non-Black POC students uncomfortable and, at worst, silence the voices and visibility of the students that make USC a diverse and well-rounded learning environment,” the complaint reads.

Tijani also created a petition calling for Fritz’s impeachment and has amassed roughly 1,500 signatures. The Fritz-Ritch duo received 1,522 votes in the 2020 election, which ran in mid-February.

Tijani filed the complaint on July 1 and was told by Savage on July 5 that the Senate would be holding separate, private impeachment hearings for both Fritz and Ritch. 

Ritch’s hearing is scheduled to take place July 14 from 6-8 p.m.

When Ritch is sworn in as the new president, Savage will be sworn in as the new vice president. The Senate would then elect a new speaker.

During the 2020 elections, the Elections Commission unanimously found Fritz and Ritch guilty of violating the Elections Code rules on mass messaging and spamming voters. They were disciplined with a suspension of further in-person campaigning and requiring the duo to publicize a way for recipients to inquire about how their email addresses had been obtained.

The loss of in-person campaigning began at noon on the final day of voting, and the latter was completed via their campaign Instagram story.

According to Fritz, they do not believe that they violated any rules and stood by their decision to use details from their “personal contacts, the contacts of our campaign team, and internal mailing lists collected from our times involved in various student organizations.”

Additional information on the succession process will be announced by USG in the following days.