University of Houston Student Leader Apologizes After Defending Free Speech on Campus

Free Speech College
AFP PHOTO/Josh Edelson

A student government leader at the University of Houston, Clear Lake is facing calls for his removal after he encouraged his peers to respect controversial opinions and free speech on campus.

According to a report by Campus Reform, Mohamed AbdelGilil, the president of the student government association at the University of Houston, Clear Lake, is facing calls for his removal after he encouraged his peers to engage in respectful debate.

“If someone is expressing their opinion about a controversial topic…respect their opinion, please….Respect my thoughts and opinions and others’ too….I will never give up my morals, religion, etc. because it offends people. Like adult people!” AbdelGilil wrote in the Facebook post.

AbdelGilil immediately faced intense criticism for his remarks. “As a student who is part of the LGBTQ+ community on campus and who has felt alienated and hurt by you, I would like to know how you specifically plan to reconnect with that large part of the student body,” one student wrote.

AbdelGilil ultimately apologized during an interview with the university’s student newspaper. As part of his apology, AbdelGilil says that he will speak with the university’s LGBT community directly.

I definitely apologize for what I did, because it was just totally unacceptable. I don’t know why I said that. Rereading it after realizing that it hurt some of you, or a majority of you, I just reflected on it and I was like, “Why did I do this? This isn’t what I really wanted to say.”

What happened happened, I can’t have an excuse for this. I am sorry to anyone who is deeply affected by this and troubled by this. The only way moving forward. Some of you don’t know this, but I actually do have an appointment with Dr. Hart at 1:30 after this meeting to discuss my actions and how to move forward. My initial plan was after contacting Dr. Hart, and getting the advice from Dr. Blake, was to come and reach out to the LGBTQIA community and sit and have a face to face discussion.

Students at the university created a petition to call for AbdelGilil’s removal. The petition argues that AbdelGilil is “unfit” for the role of president and that he creates a “hostile environment” for students.

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