Mohamed Omar, sophomore pre-law major.
The Northerner: Why did you vote the way you did?
Mohamed Omar: “I really didn’t know much about the petition. I actually found out about it a little later prior to the meeting. And, after listening to both sides—I’m somebody who likes to assess the scene and situation before making my decision or giving my opinion. So after hearing both sides and try my best to understand where both sides were coming from, I thought it was the best choice to vote to impeach President Goodwin. Mainly because it was a simple violation of the Constitution. And, for me, something that I hold very close to my heart is honesty and transparency. So if we are going to step up and take on leadership roles, or we want to represent our student body and be there for our student body, then we must be honest, and we must, you know, be willing to hold ourselves accountable whenever we make mistakes. So I thought that was the best choice.”
TN: Why do you think impeachment was brought up?
Omar: “I think there is a sense of kind of unfairness happening, where, you know, certain people who hold certain titles in the SGA are able to do certain things. And then when others may attempt to, or may want to do stuff, they are kind of ridiculed for that and, you know, not allowed to. So, in this case, when it comes to President Goodwin and her violations and kind of breaking the Constitution—when it comes to allowing people in the office and stuff like that—then I think it was important because especially when you hold such, you know, a high title. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the president or whether you’re a senator who joined a week ago, you know, we still have to abide by those same rules and regulations. So, just because you are the president, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to abide by a separate amount of, you know, regulations that are put in place. At the end of the day, when we take oath, we are for one: agreeing to the Constitution. We are, you know, putting ourselves in a position where we’re kind of advocates for students. And that also means you have more eyes on yourself. So being aware of your surroundings, and then knowing that people are watching me a little bit closer now is something important. So it’s clear that President Goodwin, although she may have been aware of what she was doing, she also may have not been aware.”
TN: What is your plan as a senator moving forward in SGA?
Omar: “My plans, especially since the impeachment failed, is I really want to try to get to know President Goodwin. You know, I really don’t know her that much. I honestly want to understand her viewpoints. And what I mean by that is, you know, for somebody who holds such a high title, I kind of want to know what it is that led her to, you know, kind of breaking the Constitution. Because at the end of the day, although the impeachment failed, she still is in that position, you know. So I really want to kind of get that understanding for my own sanity. And, you know, figure out ways to make sure that everybody on the Senate—regardless of your title—is treated the same way, has to abide by the same constitution regardless of what position you hold in the SGA. So, you know, really putting pressure on accountability, transparency, and honesty. Those are the three things that I’m trying to focus on now. Especially as a new senator coming in.”
TN: How do you feel that this was a heavily attended SGA meeting by the student body?
Omar: “I first want to thank all those students. You know, like I said before, the SGA is there for the students, you know, without student body, I’m sure the SGA wouldn’t even exist. So I really want to thank all those students who really took the time to attend that very long SGA meeting and who felt comfortable enough to show up and express their viewpoints and their concerns. Personally, I would ask for a lot more of that, you know, whether that’s coming to an SGA meeting and expressing your concerns on the microphone in front of everybody, or coming to one of us directly and having those conversations so that I can step up and, you know, push everything forward for the students. You know, with the amount of students that were present, and the amount that were expressing their concerns, it’s very unfortunate that the impeachment didn’t go through. Mainly because the SGA can have a certain opinion—when I say SGA, I’m talking about each senator and each justice that is elected. However, it all goes back to the point that we are there on behalf of the students. And if you’re seeing a very large amount of students stating that somebody violated the Constitution, they must be held accountable. It’s our duty to push for the needs of those students to make sure that they are satisfied with whatever it is that we are deciding upon or whatever it is that we are doing at the Senate. So, it is very unfortunate. However, I do want to let them know that this is not the end—that we are committed. And when I say we, I’m talking about myself and everybody else who voted yes during the meeting. So, we’re here. We’re not going anywhere.”
TN: What are you going to be doing now to represent the students—specifically students of color and members of the LGBTQ community—because the impeachment failed and many of them spoke at the meeting about how they don’t feel represented or protected?
Omar: “I will definitely be speaking out a lot more. You know, I feel like when you’re kind of given a position like this, there can be times where, you know, you can just kind of stay silent and not necessarily speak out. So, personally, I’m committed to speaking out more and advocating for the students, because, at the end of the day, I am a Black student. And, I think, what may bother a lot of the people there are the fact that I am a Black man and the only Black male senator, which is highly unfortunate. So, you know, I will continue to be there. My sole existence will continue to be there—meaning my Blackness will be present at all times. And one thing that I really do want to commit to is having more conversations with students. So, you know, Black and Brown students, members of the LGBTQ plus community. Being able to, kind of, bridge that gap between the SGA and the student body. And having those difficult conversations that a lot of the, you know, my fellow senators tend to avoid.”
TN: What factors specifically played into you voting to impeach her?
Omar: “Well, it was the simple fact that she violated the Constitution. I mean, you know, when when you violate the constitution, no matter what position you hold, you still violated the Constitution. That doesn’t change anything. I think one reason why I definitely voted yes was because I saw that the people who were voting no were mainly people who have personal relationships with the president herself. And, I think, when you’re making such a big decision, you shouldn’t let any of your personal, you know, needs or your personal relationships with somebody or personal biases—at that—even affect a decision like that. So I voted because I was, in a way, neutral. I had the opportunity to assess the situation from, kind of, the outside point and really see that, you know, this person violated the Constitution. There’s really nothing more to it. If you violate the constitution or do anything of that sort, then you must be held accountable. There’s really nothing further to that. It’s very simple. And it really does make me upset that people voted a certain way because they had a personal relationship with the president. I think when you’re making such a large decision like that you should put all of that aside and vote because you’re somebody who was put in a position to represent a student body.”
TN: What are your thoughts on all of these recent hate accounts that have been popping up on Twitter that are specifically targeting students of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community?
Omar: “I saw on Twitter. I’m not sure if you follow my Twitter account. There was some retweets in response to my tweets. I think it’s very unfortunate. I think, you know, senators who let their own biases and their own personal agendas—kind of misconstrued or kind of mixed in with their decisions—kind of open the gate for people like that to spread that hate and create these troll accounts. I don’t know. I mean, it’s very unfortunate. I don’t really do good with troll accounts; they really piss me off. And I chose not to respond to some of them. What really scares me is that I can go to a senate meeting next Monday. And the person I’m sitting next to could be that person who has that account, you know? So it really affects the safety of students of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. And I’m really urging them to stay safe in and be aware of their surroundings at all times because people are getting crazy nowadays. So I really want—I’m urging senators and especially President Goodwin to speak out about that. Because as much as she may try to push herself away from anything related to social media or anything, at the end of the day, people who are being targeted are Black and Brown senators that are on the same board as you. So I urge her to step up and speak out about that and not just put on an act in front of everybody when we have another SGA meeting. So that’s simply how I feel about that.”
TN: What are your thoughts on how the actual impeachment vote was conducted? Do you think it followed proper protocols and guidelines? Do you think it was properly conducted?
Omar: No, I don’t. I think that it was a little rushed at the end. It definitely was a little rushed at the end. I didn’t like how, I don’t remember who the guy was, but there was a guy who kept interrupting some of the senators whenever they tried to speak. I’m not sure if you know his name. But I definitely don’t like how it was conducted. I would definitely request either recount or a revote, if anything. But I definitely don’t like how that went. Especially since it was such a big decision.
TN: What is your experience with learning about the impeachment process? Were you properly taught the correct procedures for when something like this happens?
Omar: No. So, actually, quite interesting. I joined [the] Senate two weeks ago. And this was my second meeting and I actually wasn’t even in person. I thought it was going to be a simple meeting, so I just thought it would be best to join from zoom. However, I haven’t necessarily been reached out to by any of the justices or secretary or the president herself or the vice president to, you know, kind of conduct any training or any conversations to try to get to know me or, you know, anything of that sort. There was something that I actually wanted to mention. Let me just pull up the tweet here. In regards to that. So this morning, I tweeted, “was I chosen because I qualify and meet the requirements or was I chosen simply because I’m black?” And I had received a message of—actually it pulls from the Northerner. President Goodwin said with the applications for senators, she accepted every person of color who applied to be a senator except for one because of grades. So, I’m really trying to figure out if I was chosen because I qualify for the position or if I was chosen simply because I was Black. And, if that’s the case, then that really does upset me because I don’t want to be that token Black person to, you know, kind of fit that standard diversity and inclusion quota. You know, I’m not sure if they have to fill a certain amount. But that would be very unfortunate. And, I think, as days go by it’s starting to kind of look like that because I would assume that they would reach out and try to talk about certain things and try to get to know me as a senator. But none of that has happened yet, so I guess we’ll see what the future holds.
TN: Do you think it’s a conflict of interest that President Goodwin is dating Chief Justice Cleary?
Omar: Yes, it is. I mean, 100%. You know, if you look at certain work fields or workforces, people who work together are not even allowed to be in relationships together. People get terminated for stuff like that. And, you know, by all means, I think it is definitely a conflict of interest, you know, even when you’re taking a look at the impeachment, you know, Chief Justice Cleary would obviously vote no for the impeachment because that’s somebody he’s in a relationship [with]. He has his own personal biases, you know, blocking that transparency or blocking that, you know, neutral field that he should be in. So it definitely is, you know, conflict of interest. And I think that if anybody else was in that position, people would be having a different conversation. But since it is the president, then they’re a little hesitant to, and they don’t want to kind of step up and say something in regards to that. But I personally think it is a conflict of interest.