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.


Senator’s comments reveal widely-held (and false) view on Sagebrush funding

In recent weeks, ASUN officials have been in a bit of a spit with the staff of the Nevada Sagebrush. Their anger isn’t unfounded: the paper has published several articles critical of the student government, ranging from an ongoing series criticizing the organization to a staff editorial proclaiming both candidates for ASUN President unfit for office. While in the past, Senators and other ASUN officials would complain privately about the Sagebrush, this new world of social media and online-oriented lifestyles means that comments made by certain senators are made available to anyone with a computer and the ability to take screenshots.

On that note, College of Liberal Arts Senator Taylor Snell has been on a warpath lately, commenting on the Sagebrush website and posting vague threats via Facebook of stripping funding from the Sagebrush. Three senators (MacCallister Higgins, Drew Sheehy and Jasper Allen Jacobs) liked the status, though it’s nigh impossible to decipher the intentioned meaning of a Facebook ‘like.’ If you don’t want to read the entirety of Snell’s writings, I’ve taken a few quotes from both posting, which still happen to be online:

Lovely, just fucking lovely. Here’s an idea you sad excuse for a writer; TALK TO THE SENATORS. CALL ME. There’s more that’s been done and gone under your blissful noses, and just because you idiots didn’t report on it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. (Nevada Sagebrush)

 As lovely as of a paper as it is, we should consider if it is ethically acceptable, on behalf of our constituents, to allocate the Sagebrush money and have them report on our behavior and workings in office. (Facebook)

Here’s something that Senator Snell should of considered before publicly denouncing the Sagebrush: ASUN doesn’t pay for the Sagebrush. I’ll repeat it, for clarification’s sake. ASUN gives no money directly to the Nevada Sagebrush. The staff themselves made the same point after criticism arose over the sexual awareness issue. No student fees go toward the production of the newspaper, whether that’s staff salaries or printing costs- all is covered by advertising revenue. (For additional clarification, Director of ASUN Sandra Rodriguez also posted on Facebook regarding the same topic.)

That being said, there are a few things ASUN helps support, which in turn also assist the Sagebrush. According to this session’s budget, tens of thousands of dollars go toward running and staffing the Publications and Advertising department, which does the legwork of finding advertisers and getting them to advertise in the Sagebrush. But the department also provides the same service for all other on-campus publications, (Insight, Wolf Pack Radio & Brushfire) and the paper provides a portion of the salary for the graduate assistant in charge of the program. ASUN also provides the office space in the Joe Crowley Student Union, pays for any computer updates needed, and pays for maintenance. So it’s safe to say that while the Sagebrush is mostly independent of the student government, it is still in some ways tied to ASUN.

For senators such as Snell, who would seek to cut whatever funding ASUN does provide that benefits the Sagebrush, I would strongly caution against. The Nevada Sagebrush has existed since 1893, and is the oldest student-run and student-operated organization in the state of Nevada. It’s won several Associated Collegiate Press awards for both it’s print product and website. Yes, the paper has made mistakes. I’ve written many times of the Sagebrush’s failings, from news judgment to lying in a graph to making unsupported statements on it’s front page. But I’ve never once called for the paper to lose funding or declare bankruptcy.

There’s a fine line between critiquing the Sagebrush and actively trying to censor it, and I fear Senator Snell has made it apparent that he supports the later. For anyone who has a problem with the Sagebrush, don’t passively make snarky comments on a Facebook group or insult a writer on a website: email the writer in question, or set up a meeting with the editor-in-chief. Or go visit their office- it’s in the ASUN section of the Joe Crowley Student Union, on the third floor.

I’m not saying that the Sagebrush should be free from criticism. If anything, it needs to take a look at itself as much as it claims ASUN needs to self-examine. But a disagreement over coverage shouldn’t prevent the operation of what has been the student voice of the University of Nevada, Reno for the past 119 years.