Letter to the Editor: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?
I have been very active in clubs and the Student Government Association since the fall semester of 2012. When I became an SGA Senator on behalf of the Global Business club, under constitution of the time each club elected 2 senators for a total of 120-140 senators.
At my first senate meeting, sometime in early Oct. 2012, it was revealed that a new constitution was planned. The number of senators had been greatly reduced, and I was uncomfortable with the drastic reduction in representation so I was one of the few senators who vehemently opposed it. Thus began my antagonistic relationship with student involvement and SGA as well.
The current situation, began on Dec. 9, 2015 following a successful event in which I, planned, registered, handled promotion, even paid for the food out of my own pocket. It should have been the conclusion of a very successful semester as co-president. At last it was not to be, I was approached by the acting director of student involvement, regarding a disciplinary issue. This took me by complete surprise, and I felt singled out because this was a violation of my rights as of student code of conduct, Section VI a.1, which states “A written statement of charges against them.” When I complained about the violation of my rights I was told it was unimportant.
I had no idea why I was facing disciplinary action, I made the appointment for next day as I was certain it must have been some kind of mistake. Unfortunately it was not. While I was busy working my butt off, 7 alleged members of my club, had gone behind my back, claiming that I had harassed them in a non-sexual manner. I asked what I had allegedly done, and not a single specific incident was given, so that I could refute it. Instead I was told how I undemocratically removed the secretary of my club, something I easily proved was untrue.
I was told that I couldn’t know the complainants, because they were allegedly scared of me. The only piece of collaborating evidence was a report from 3 years ago from a one-time auxiliary advisor, who I just never really got along with.
I offered substantial considerable evidence proving my innocence. Even so, I believe that I would receive no more than a warning. The following Monday, September 14 I was told that I was to be given the maximum penalty, and all my hard work was taken from me.
I was granted an appeal hearing on Jan. 12, 2016, where from the very start I felt as if the odds were stacked against me. The sole person who was judging me was someone with whom I have a long and contentious history.
Several of my most important questions were reworded either changing my meaning or confusing my witnesses. I would strike down one baseless allegation after another, only to have the nature of it changed. Like for example, “You ran your club like a dictator,” “Oh I guess that’s not true, well, you may have mistreated a member in secret one on one.”
I was not surprised at the guilty verdict. In summation, one should never be denied the right to face their accusers, or have proven a negative allegation in the 21st century!
Signed, a concerned student.