Student Government’s (SG) mission statement promises that its members will serve its constituents “with integrity and honor in all that we do.”
And it’s a good mission to boot: Governments are more likely to be fair, just and efficient if its staffers are honest and have to conduct their work in the open. Likewise, shadiness is bred by secretive organizations because there’s simply more room for it to hide, hence flourish.
Whether SG’s response to alleged misconduct at a Bull’s Night Out event this summer reflects the former or the latter model remains unclear.
Alcohol was present in SG’s offices in the Marshall Center on June 14, until administrators broke up the party. The drinking constitutes a violation of the student code of conduct.
SG President Barclay Harless did apologize for the wrongdoing that occurred on his watch, but only after the Oracle started investigating the allegations.
He admitted he knew alcohol was present that night, but said he did not drink.
Members of SG also said he offered an attendee of the orientation – which SG also uses to recruit new members – a drink.
Until last night’s Senate meeting, SG had not openly
discussed the allegations.
According to Harless, this was not because the body wanted to hush them up, but rather that few people would have been on campus to attend the Senate meeting where the issue would have been addressed, which came at the tail-end of the
SG decided not to handle the situation immediately and instead wait until the fall session reconvened so the student body was kept in the know, Harless said.
At the time of the incident, the Oracle was publishing twice a week. SG did not contact an Oracle staffer during
Harless is also currently under review by student judicial services. Privacy laws prevent the University from releasing details until the case is resolved.
It is also unclear whether University administrators familiar with the allegations were barred from commenting on the case because of privacy laws.
About half of the SG members who could shed light on the situation interviewed before Harless’ apology refused to go on the record.
This is indefensible.
USF students, who elected SG and pay both SG and the administration through tuition and fees, deserve timely, open handling of any questionable behavior.
It is expected that SG police itself before the student body as it did Tues. evening. More importantly, SG should police itself willingly, not just in light of our prodding.