I’ve been trained to think of UMich’s Chris Armstrong whenever somebody says the words “student body president.” But that’s a habit easy to change upon hearing about Alray Nelson, a gay Navajo political science major, who yesterday resigned his president post at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado — and was arrested hours later for reporting false bias crimes.
After being elected student body president last year and assuming office at the beginning of the semester, Nelson told “multiple law-enforcement agencies” he received threatening text messages, notes left on his car, and emails, according to Alex Hutchison, a Durango Police Department detective. (Nelson also claims he was drugged while downtown; police also say that claim is false.)
The allegedly false reports began Nov. 5, and Durango police began additional patrolling of his home but otherwise did not offer any increased security. Comments left on the website of student newspaper The Durango Herald began appearing Oct. 29, attacking Nelson for his ethnicity and sexual orientation and calling for his impeachment. Just last week Nelson was speaking at a campus rally when the Westboro Baptist Church threatened to protest, but never showed up. And Fort Lewis president Dene Kay Thomas “was vocal in her support of Nelson in the last several weeks,” the paper reports. “She also promised and followed through with providing space for a new Gender and Sexuality Resource Center on campus.”
Nelson must appear in court next month, where he faces misdemeanor charges of filing a false police report, which carries possible sentencing of six months in jail and a $750 fine.
[photo: Nelson, pictured with student body vice president Laura Beth Waltz, who will take over his position; via]