Students tackle soccer player’s recent withdrawal

Natalia Martinez withdrew from her courses on Monday Jan. 22, one day after another Georgia State student began a petition to expel her. Martinez had sparked rage within the Georgia State community after she posted a picture on a private Instagram profile in which she used the N-word. She was temporarily suspended from the women’s soccer team, but students felt that wasn’t enough and ranked up over 700 signatures in the petition calling for Martinez’s expulsion.

But while many students were still expressing concern on the matter, the athletic department had closed the case early last week.

On Tuesday, Associate Athletics Director Mike Holmes sent The Signal a statement informing that student-athletes were not interested in speaking on the subject, and that members of the staff considered the issue closed.

But students continued to post on Facebook and voice their anger on the issue; some for the lack of university action, and others standing against the petition and the harsh student-led consequences that Martinez faced.

A LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Usra Mohamed, recent Georgia State graduate said she doesn’t believe Martinez should have gotten expelled. But she said the university should have considered the situation a learning lesson.

“The reason I don’t think she should have been expelled is because she technically didn’t threaten anyone,” Mohamed said. “Had she not withdrawn from [Georgia State], I would’ve liked to have seen the university take this issue head on and address this.”

As far as her athletic career, Mohamed said she believes Martinez should have been suspended indefinitely.

Saakib Zafrani, former Signal Sports Editor said she never saw an incident like this during her time covering Georgia State sports, but for her, the solution is a no-brainer.

“The athlete wears the colors, travels and represents the university,” Zafrani said. “I don’t see this as being any different than an employer/employee relationship. This wouldn’t be as much of a debate if XYZ [corporation] fired her as an employee after they saw her inflammatory comments on social media.”

For others, like Georgia State student and staff member Helen Souris who left a comment on the petition, Martinez’s comments were racist and don’t belong on campus.

“I want people on our campus to feel safe,” Souris commented. “Our school prides itself on diversity and inclusion, so comments and phrasing that marginalize and negatively affect a very large sum of our student populus have no place on this campus.”

The sentiment was shared by the student that started it all, India Bridgeforth. Bridgeforth started the petition.

“Georgia State’s mission statement states that we ‘provide an outstanding education and exceptional support for students from all backgrounds, and these Panther values are not concurrent with the very disturbing statements made publicly by the [Georgia State] freshman and soccer player,” she wrote on the petition.

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