GMU Student Gov’t Officer Removed for Using Term

Where is the Tolerance of Diverse Thought? Lost to Political
The following was written by Storm Paglia, a student at
George Mason University. He is the current General
Manager of WGMU Radio and the former President of
Sigma Alpha Epsilon at GMU.
Yes, I called illegal immigrants “illegals” in a tweet. Yes, I was
removed from George Mason University Student Government
for using that word in a tweet. No, I do not find the term
offensive, and I did not mean any offense by it.
My tweets, aimed toward the state legislature in Virginia, were
an expression of free speech petitioning my government
officials. Unfortunately, the George Mason University Student
Government found it so politically incorrect that I was forcibly
removed from my position as executive undersecretary of
university services for dining services.
The comments I made were not racist, profane, malicious, or
meant to be offensive.
What I do find offensive is that as an out-of-state student, I
pay higher tuition than a student who came to Virginia
illegally. Under Attorney General Mark Herring’s unilateral
decision, many illegals can now qualify for in-state tuition.
I came from New Jersey legally to go to school here in
Virginia, yet someone who came here from another country
gets special treatment.

Whenever I make comments about politics like this, I make
clear that am tweeting my personal opinion on my personal
twitter account, and not representing the collective opinion of
Student Government or any of the other organizations. The
issue I was politically commenting on had nothing to do with
my role working with dining services.
I faithfully carried out all my duties within Student
Government at all times to improve dining for the campus
community. Shouldn’t that be the measure of judgment rather
than my political expressions?
Whether you agree with my tweets or not, free speech is
what is beautiful about our great country. We are all entitled
to disagree with each other; it is a vital part of a democratic
The university setting is supposed to be a venue for the free
exchange of ideas, regardless of belief. At a university with
thousands of unique voices, shouldn’t they all be heard, and
not simply the most popular?
In their statement on my removal, the Student Government
said, “Student Government has always, and will continue to,
embrace the diversity of thought and opinion within our
organization and within our university.”
Yet, in the next sentence, they say my remarks “will not be
tolerated.” Apparently, they don’t see the irony. They are
embracing my diversity of thought with intolerance—simply
for the sake of political correctness.

New and innovative ideas emerge when different points of
view come together, but for that to happen there needs to be
a mutual level of civility in the dialogue and a representation of
all opinions on campus. We need more people standing up for
free speech, diversity of thought and opinion, and inclusion.
While I am disappointed about being removed from my
position in Student Government, and the manner in which it
was done, I am optimistic this will start a productive
conversation about some of the more hypocritical politically
correct policies at George Mason University.
I hope to have meetings with University administration to
work towards stronger free speech and inclusion policies so
other campus leaders won’t have to worry about the threat of
removal from a student organization at a public university
because of their personal opinions and comments on local