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Monday, March 20, 2023

Guest Commentary

Guest Column: Calls for removal bar opinion diversity


Tensions have risen over a Facebook post by Rohini Sethi, the SGA vice president, and now some students are calling for her removal. | Trey Strange/The Cougar


I read with dismay the calls on social media for the removal of the Student Government Association vice president, Rohini Sethi.  While students are well within their rights to voice their displeasure with Sethi’s political stance, demanding for her resignation goes further than mere freedom of speech.

During my tenure as speaker of the Senate for SGA’s 41st Administration, I led a committee of senators that reviewed and re-wrote the SGA Constitution.  We carefully considered all provisions of the constitution in light of controversies that may come before SGA.

One such matter included the removal of elected officials from office.

This is a drastic action and should never be taken lightly.  On the other hand, we did not want to unduly tie the hands of the Senate in the event of truly egregious conduct by one of their own.

While we gave the Senate wide latitude to impeach officials in Article VII, we also included Section 2.01 to ensure that SGA remembered it cannot act in contravention of the protections afforded to all students under the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.  In this case, Sethi does not surrender her right to freedom of speech upon taking her oath of office.

Students may call for her removal, but such an action by SGA would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the SGA Constitution and the very oaths they took.

Instead of calling for her removal, have any of those students bothered to have a civil discussion with Sethi regarding her views and the reason she chose to make that statement?

The diversity on campus is not limited to the variety of ethnicities and nationalities of students. Diversity includes the differences of political opinions and perspectives on the community and world.

If we took more time to better understand the differing views and experiences of those around us, would we have the strife that led to the Black Lives Matter movement?

Let’s begin a dialogue, Cougars with the students, staff, faculty and even alumni such as myself.  Don’t shout down Sethi and dismiss her from the public sphere.  Take the time to better understand her outlook and the reasons for her statement.

Listening and learning will take us much further than shouting and shunning.

Bobby L. Warren is an alumnus from the UH Law Center Class of 2005, and all opinions are his own. To reach out to The Cougar or submit a guest column of you own, contact [email protected]

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