Q&A with ASUN Chief Justice Robert del Carlo on his impeachment decision, more

ASUN Chief Justice Robert del Carlo

The following is a list of emailed questions and answers between myself and ASUN Chief Justice, Robert del Carlo, regarding the impeachment process for embattled ASUN President Jake Pereira. I’ve edited for spacing and spelling, but left his answers almost … Continue reading

ASUN AG: Impeachment trial for student body prez must go on

ASUN President Jake Pereira

ASUN President Jake Pereira

According to an opinion filed today by Associated Students of the University of Nevada Attorney General Steven Kish, the scheduled impeachment hearing for President Jake Pereira on May 7 is legitimate and should not be delayed.

The opinion, written in response to Speaker Cadden Fabbi’s request for clarification on the legality of the judicial council’s actions, found that the council acted legally and that a delay in the impeachment proceedings would result in charges brought forth against Fabbi.

In the Judicial Council’s 3-2 decision, the body found that Pereira acted with “malfeasance” in intimidating Kish to delete an erroneously sent email regarding Pereira’s membership in UNR secret society Coffin & Keys. Pereira also lied to students during a presidential debate, saying that he was not affiliated with the group.

(For more information on the judicial council’s opinion, please see my previous post.)

Both Pereira and ASUN Vice President Alex Bybee released statements yesterday admitting their membership in Coffin & Keys.

“I was wrong in being untruthful during the debate and am making every possible effort to be as forthcoming and transparent in this current process moving forward,” Pereira said the statement.

During an interview on Tuesday, Bybee said he will retain support for Pereira due to his leadership, and that being a part of Coffin & Keys is only a part of their identity as leaders.

“Do I think Jake should have lied? No,” Bybee said. “But Jake has been honest since then.”

Bybee said he began the initiation process into Coffin & Keys during the semester, but was not fully aware of Pereira’s membership in the organization until after the election due to the group’s secretive nature.

Pereira and Bybee both stated that they will retain membership in Coffin & Keys. Both leaders denied commenting on the identity of other members in Coffin & Keys, as well as other details about the organization.

A large coffin-shaped sign erected at UNR alleging to name the members of Coffin & Keys was not from the group and not entirely accurate, Bybee said.

“The list that was published on the coffin today was speculative,” he said.

Since the Reno Gazette-Journal published a story on the impeachment process yesterday, more than 530 people have liked a Facebook page titled, “We Stand with Jake Pereira.” A Facebook post on the official Coffin & Keys page promised that the group’s members would continue working towards the betterment of the University of Nevada.

It is neither the comments we post, nor the articles we publish that make us who we are,” the post said. “Rather it is the actions of each of our members, known or not.”

For a collection of documents related to this story, please visit this link.

UNR Student Body prez lied to students, brought up for impeachment

(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

UNR Fraternity/Sorority GPAs released

UNR’s Greek Life program released the average Spring 2013 GPA for each fraternity and sorority on campus today, and the results are interesting:

  • Best: Delta Delta Delta had an average GPA of 3.203, which is pretty crazy considering they have more than 100 members. Overall, Panhellenic sororities averaged a 3.1 GPA, which is higher than the average for all women at a 2.99 GPA.
  • Worst: Kappa Alpha Psi, which counts 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick as a recent alum, averaged a 2.12 GPA for the Spring semester. Overall, the Kappas had the lowest GPA out of any Greek organization on the UNR campus.

For more numbers/breakdowns, check out the pdf file below:

Spring 2013 Summary Final

ASUN planning to strip funding from UNR publications

ASUN President Ziad Rashdan

ASUN President Ziad Rashdan

Funding for several ASUN-sponsored publications, including Insight Magazine, Wolf Pack Radio and literary arts journal Brushfire  could be fiscally gutted or otherwise unfunded if the student government’s proposed budget is approved.

Though ASUN’s income is projected at about $70,000 more than last year, President Ziad Rashdan’s proposed budget would eliminate all funding for Brushfire, which was allocated about $25,000 last year. Wolf Pack Radio’s funding would drop from about $30,000 to $16,550, and Insight Magazine would see their budget drop from $33,450 to $22,175. In total, publication funding would drop from about 4 percent of ASUN’s budget to 1.8 percent if the proposal is approved.

Brushfire has taken to Facebook to protest the cuts and to ask contributors to write messages of support on its wall, while both Insight and Wolf Pack Radio have made no public comments since the budget was first released last week. ASUN has made no public statement about the proposed cuts at this time. Though not on the May 1 agenda for the ASUN Senate, the budget is usually approved before the end of the academic year.

You can check out this year’s proposed budget by clicking here.

UPDATE: Evynn Tyler, Editor of Insight Magazine, has created a petition to stop the cuts to the publications. As of April 29, it has more than 75 signees.

UPDATE 2: Tyler’s petition has received more than 250 signatures, including some from UNR professors and student media leaders in the Nevada Sagebrush. Reynolds School of Journalism Senator Myles Button posted on his facebook page that he would vote against the cuts, saying, “I will oppose these cuts because I know my constituents oppose them.”

I ran into President Rashdan at an event earlier this week, and he acknowledged my request for comment and said he’d get back to me with a statement.

The ASUN Committee on Budget and Finance will meet on Friday to put together a bill approving the budget. Meeting details can be found here.

UNR student charged with stabbing at White Pine Hall

The University of Nevada, Reno has released several statements regarding a stabbing that took place last night in the lobby of White Pine residence hall. According to the reports, 18-year-old University student Christopher Williams allegedly stabbed a female residence hall employee last night at around 2:30 a.m. The employee is currently in stable condition at an area hospital, and Williams was arrested & charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon Causing Substantial Bodily Harm and Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and is currently being held in Washoe County Jail.

Both the University’s Media Relations department and Campus Police have released statements. You can find them below:

Media Relations:

RENO, Nev. – At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, University Police responded to a report of a stabbing at White Pine Hall on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Upon arrival, officers found a University residence-hall employee who had been stabbed in the lobby of the building. The victim was transported to an area hospital where she underwent surgery for her wound and remains in stable condition.

Officers arrested 18-year-old University student Christopher Stephen Williams at the scene. He has been charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon Causing Substantial Bodily Harm and Assault with a Deadly Weapon and is in the Washoe County jail. The incident remains under investigation by University Police.

UNR Campus Police:

This is to update you about an incident that occurred on campus Saturday morning October 13, 2012.

 

At 2:30 a.m., University Police officers were dispatched to White Pine Hall on the report of a stabbing that occurred in the lobby.  Upon arrival officers found a residence hall employee who had been stabbed in the abdomen. The victim was transported to an area hospital where she underwent surgery for her wound and remains in stable condition. The suspect, a student, was arrested at the scene and has been lodged at the Washoe County Jail on charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon Causing Substantial Bodily Harm and Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

 

It would appear that the employee should be commended for her actions – despite being severely injured she had the presence of mind to alert others in the residence hall and give police necessary information for an arrest prior to seeking assistance for her own wounds. President Marc Johnson joins me in conveying admiration and heartfelt appreciation for this employee’s bravery and actions.

 

As a faculty member, staff member or student, it is important that you be apprised of these matters. These incidents are isolated but provide an opportunity for the University to reaffirm its commitment to continually work to enhance campus safety measures. A complete overview of our campus safety program can be found on the UNR Police Services webpage (www.unr.edu/police), however I would like to highlight three key aspects of this program:

 

-          The University’s Emergency Messaging System informs subscribers of emergency situations or campus closures by text and/or email messages. All faculty, staff and students should sign up for the Emergency Messaging System at http://www.unr.edu/general-information/emergency/alerts

-          A number of free training opportunities are available, including self-defense and personal-safety training. Information can be found atwww.unr.edu/police

-          The University’s annual security and fire safety report is available online at http://www.unr.edu/Documents/administration-finance/Police/2011-Annual-Report.pdf 

 

A significant incident often raises the question of crime overall. This experience is unusual. Typically, campus crimes are non-violent crimes, such as thefts or alcohol-related crime. The University is subject to the Cleary Act, the federal law that requires that any major or violent crime on University property be widely communicated to the campus community. We fully comply with this act. In many ways the University is a city within a city, and no one corner of any city is entirely without crime and it is important to report crimes, suspicious people and situations promptly by contacting  University Police Services to 334-COPS (2677), the Police duty phone at 745-6195, or 911 in an emergency.

UNR releases more details on Michelle Obama visit

The University of Nevada, Reno released more details regarding First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to the university on Wednesday. Copied below is an email sent out to the undergraduate student listserv:

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Quad will be the site for a public event featuring First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday, October 3. Access to the morning-long event on Wednesday will begin at 8:15 a.m. and tickets will be required.

Additional event information, including information about the on-campus ticket distribution beginning Monday morning, is posted on the University’s online calendar at www.unr.edu<http://www.unr.edu>.

As always, please keep pedestrian and traffic safety in mind and watch for directional signage that will be posted primarily on Virginia Street for this event. It is anticipated that no changes will be made to the regular student parking plans. The public will be directed to park on the upper two levels of the West Stadium Parking Complex and in the parking lots north of campus. Changes are anticipated for parking areas in the vicinity of the Quad and Morrill Hall, and these changes will be communicated to faculty and staff next week.

This information is being provided as a courtesy, in recognition of the significance of this public event.

-              Division of Student Services

UNR Fraternity suspended

The University of Nevada, Reno chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha has been suspended by the university, according to Greek Life Coordinator Dennis Campbell. In an email, Campbell said, “The chapter is currently suspended pending a University investigation.”

The university’s Inter-Fraternity Council has taken no disciplinary action against the organization as of Monday.

Full Disclosure: I am a member of the local Phi Delta Theta chapter, and as such I do not feel comfortable reporting or writing an in-depth story about any aspect of UNR Greek Life. I’m only writing this post because I believe that it’s important for students and members of the community to know the truth. This post serves only to get the necessary information out for this story, and I would be more than happy to get the input or response from a member of Lambda Chi and post it on this blog. Please email me here if you want to comment.

Meet the new Sagebrush, same as the old Sagebrush?

Though it hasn’t been mentioned online or in their newest print edition, the Nevada Sagebrush has undergone a pretty significant change in internal structure and external product this year under new Editor-in-Chief Ben Miller. And as someone who worked for the paper in the past, and got a sense of what Ben is planning on doing this semester during an interview, I figured that students and faculty would find the changes noteworthy.

1. So long, sports section

Though there were several issues last year that followed the same pattern, it appears that there will no longer be a separate & individual sports section distributed with the Sagebrush. Rather than a four to six page section, it looks like the Sports section will be assigned to the back few pages of the main A section. The move was made because of the extra cost in printing and distributing the extra section, Ben told me during that interview.

2. So long, Arts and Entertainment

The other significant external change is the elimination of the Arts & Entertainment editor position. Though I don’t want to speculate on the section’s closure, as the online version is still up, no posts have been made since June and no stories were produced in the new edition. From conversations with Ben, I think I can glean two reasons behind this decision – one, to eliminate an editor position saving thousands of dollars, and two, because the section has been quite barren and not very interesting in the past few years.

3. Hello, new online staff

One of the Sagebrush’s big initiatives this year is to expand their presence online, similar to the paths taken by my perennial favorite college paper The Oregon Daily Emerald. And looking at the organization’s contact page shows that split pretty well – essentially the positions of assistant editor has been replaced by online editor.

Verdict

Overall, I feel like the Sagebrush is moving in the right direction, while still staying grounded in their traditional product. On paper, it’s a great system. In reality, it’s a little worse than that. Just from my experience, I know plenty of advertisers and students are only interested in the sports section, and won’t be happy about it shrinking.

Additionally, cutting an entire section seems like a bad idea. There are plenty of great opportunities for lifestyle and culture writers to gain valuable experience – Roger Ebert got his start writing movie reviews in his college paper. College papers, much like alt-weeklies, are critical in covering non-traditional topics that appeal to a younger audience – I’d much rather read a movie or eatery review in the Sagebrush than I would in the Reno Gazette-Journal because I relate closer to the Sagebrush. Rather, reducing the salary of an Arts and Entertainment Editor or splitting the duties with an Opinion Editor would work out much better.

And in regards to the focus online, I think it can work – if the work is put in. So far, only a handful of new stories have appeared on the website a day after publication, and I can find articles all the way from April on the front page. Blogs are out of date, the contact sheet was only updated a day or two before school started – for a news organization focusing on online, they really aren’t doing much of that. Part of it is adjusting back to school, but it will be interesting to see how successful this shift will be. In my three years at Nevada, I’ve seen the Sagebrush shift from a 20-odd person, beefy news outlet that competed for national awards, to one that was barely scraping along at the end of last year. It’s a critical time to be a member of the Nevada Sagebrush – let’s see if they step it up.

Breaking: ASUN Senator resigns over racist tweet

Image courtesy of nevadaasun.com

Reynolds School of Journalism senator Spenser Blank resigned today due to a racist tweet he sent out last weekend, prompting ASUN officials to immediately apologize and host a public forum next week to hear from students.

Blank’s resignation comes directly on the heels of its appearance in the semesterly Coffin and Keys newsletter, which published a screenshot of the tweet (See the tweet here). At the time of writing, Blank appears to have deleted his Twitter feed, and has not announced anything on his senate Facebook page (Editor’s Note: It appears that Blank deleted his facebook page as well)

In a statement released today, ASUN President Huili Weinstock announced a public forum will be held Monday at 2 p.m. for students to hear concerns from students, and that ASUN’s mandatory sexual harassment training will be bumped to the government’s general retreat over summer.

“I would like to apologize directly to anyone who may have been offended  by the content of the tweet,” Weinstock said. “Students have come forward and expressed their concerns. I would like to say ASUN does not support this kind of speech.”

Blank was elected to his position by about a 4 to 1 ratio during the ASUN elections in March, and the process to appoint a replacement senator should begin in the upcoming fall semester. In a statement released today, Blank apologized for his actions and pledged to atone for his mistake in his future actions

“Words cannot express enough how sincerely sorry I am for the actions I’ve taken that hurt my constituents in the Reynolds School of Journalism and every other student who was offended by what I said,” he said in the statement. “I am taking full responsibility for my actions and I plan to personally apologize to the groups of people who have approached me.”

This isn’t the first social media controversy ASUN has faced: several years ago, Inkblot employee Nicole Dion was fired after tweeting about a University police incident.