University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Arlington Student Body President Impeached, Removed From Office

Uncovered Discord messages from Student Body President Caitlyn Burge-Surles showed jokes that many called xenophobic and racist.

UT Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington's Student Body President was impeached and removed from office Monday after a series of alleged online messages she posted surfaced were called into question.

The screenshot messages, coming from the public forum site Discord, show alleged discriminatory comments from former Student Body President Caitlyn Burge-Surles.

The uncovered remarks led to calls from prominent student organizations to speak out and call for her impeachment.

"The president stated in this Discord server that we should, and I quote, 'Blow up those countries," student senator and impeachment manager Jacqueline Avila said in her opening remarks, referencing the online posts where Burge-Surles allegedly commented against middle eastern countries.

"If this were someone talking about the United States, they'd be put on the terrorist watch list," Avila continued.

Burge-Surles was impeached for being unable to fulfill her responsibilities due in part to her alleged remarks and her inability to attend her full office hours, according to reporting from The Shorthorn, UT Arlington's student news publication.

“Our student body is one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation and it is the student body president’s job to advocate and represent the student body equally,” Avila said. “Caitlyn Burge is incapable of fulfilling this duty due to her biases and attitudes towards many people that fit these minority groups.”

Student Body President Burge-Surles defended her actions at the impeachment hearings, saying her comments were meant to be received as a joke in a private discussion and that her conservative ideology was under attack.

"They were on my own time. They didn't have my name attached to them," Burge-Surles said. "Frankly, they did not affect my ability to do my job at all."

When asked by a student senate member why she would post messages that could be viewed as offensive, Burge-Surles responded.

"Because I could," she said, reiterating her right to carry her own, private views. Burge-Surles also iterated that since the controversy, she has dealt with online harassment and bullying which has led to heightened anxiety.

"I have been threatened, harassed, bullied online and publicly defamed simply for having my own personal, private religious and political opinions," Burge Surles said.

After several senate testimonials criticizing the president, the body voted unanimously to remove Burge-Surles.

Impeachment proceedings for the student body Chief of Staff for related concerns are being held Tuesday and proceedings for the Vice-President on his own alleged behavior are being held Wednesday.

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