(Note: The Reno Gazette-Journal has published a story on Pereira’s impeachment. It can be found here.)
Newly elected ASUN President Jake Pereira has been brought up for impeachment by the student judicial council stemming from his involvement in UNR secret society Coffin & Keys.
The student judicial board, in a 3-2 decision released on April 27, found that Pereira alongside fellow Coffin & Keys member Steve Bezick intimidated ASUN Attorney General Steven Kish (all of whom are members of Sigma Phi Epsilon) into deleting an accidently sent email regarding Coffin & Keys activity.
The council also found that Pereira lied to students about his membership in Coffin & Keys during an ASUN Presidential debate. (Remarks start at 18:00)
During the debate, Pereira stated, “Going back to those allegations of being in secret societies such as Coffin & Keys…I’d like to deny my membership in said organization as well as the fact that these organizations will dictate any part of the visions and goals of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada.”
Pereira said his answer was more focused on ensuring that his presidency would not be influenced by Coffin & Keys, and that he’s tried to act with transparency since being elected. He said that since taking the oath of office, he’s fully dedicated to fulfilling his role as ASUN President.
“I was a candidate then, I’m the president now,” he said.
Pereira said that he plans on releasing a statement shortly, and being addressing the situation during Wednesday’s Senate meeting. However, Pereira said he will retain membership in Coffin & Keys.
Pereira said he agreed with the two dissenting justices, who found Pereira’s actions in asking Kish to delete the email not serious enough to warrant impeachment. The dissenters, who filed different opinions, found that Kish’s initial charge sheet asked for the council to not levy judgement against either Coffin & Keys or Pereira’s involvement.
According to the decision, Pereira planned to appoint former Senator and current Coffin & Keys member Steve Bezick to the position of Chief of Staff. Bezick is still on the Senate agenda for confirmation to that position.
Additionally, a large coffin-shaped sign was erected on campus Tuesday, listing the names of alleged Coffin & Keys members. The alleged members include former ASUN President Ziad Rashdan, Pereira, current ASUN Vice President Alex Bybee and Speaker of the Senate Caden Fabbi. Among the alleged members is current ASUN justice Jake Pinocchio, who dissented in the council’s decision.
(Note: I previously had a picture of the sign itself up. After talking to several Coffin & Keys members, I’ve decided to take it down, as several of the names listed are not members of Coffin & Keys. I will be reaching out to everyone on the list to ask whether or not they’re members in the next few days.)
Pereira said the sign was not entirely accurate, and he was not in the position to confirm or deny any names listed. He said that he didn’t know who put the sign up.
ASUN’s judicial council criticized Pereira for falsely campaigning, noting that it was setting a precedent in not allowing “this type of behavior” to jeopardize the integrity of ASUN. In the decisions, the justices clarified that it was not Pereira’s membership in Coffin & Keys that lead to their decision, but the fact that he lied to students about his association, as well as intimidating Kish into deleting the email.
Coffin & Keys is a male-only secret society that occasionally publishes obscene, humorous newsletters often commenting on campus politics and life (An excellent history can be found here). Pereira said that he has never written anything in the Coffin & Keys newsletters.
The council ordered the ASUN Senate to stay Pereira’s executive board appointments, as Bezick is one of the nominees, and instructed the senate to hold an impeachment hearing on May 7. The judicial council also provided instructions for ASUN to purchase advertising space in the Nevada Sagebrush relating the council’s decision.
As of April 29, the Sagebrush has not posted any story on Pereira’s impeachment. A Sagebrush writer confirmed that a story on the impeachment will be published in next Tuesday’s issue.
A copy of the decision has been posted below.
ASUN Judicial Opinion Assenting Impeachment