Discipline misapplied in retreat incident

By: Jasmyn Elliot / Opinion Editor

At the end of the Fall 2010 Semester, The Beacon ended its run with a surprising and disappointing report involving wrongdoing on part of the Student Government Council of Modesto Maidique Campus.

Proof that several interns, former SGC-MMC Vice President Nick Autiello and former SGC-MMC Intern Coordinator Laura Farinas engaged in and supported underage drinking during a September 2010 retreat surfaced.

Oddly enough, it is not the underage drinking that I am mainly upset with. Although I don’t agree with this behavior in the least, it would be ignorant of me to say that this is shocking to hear of college students engaging in underage drinking. It is the time, place and manner that upset me.

The retreat is a place where interns can have a chance to enhance their student government experience by relating to the officials on a social level and, in a sense, bond with them.

With that being said, the officials, the vice president and intern coordinator especially, are still responsible for setting the correct example, especially when it comes to conduct. In my eyes, providing underage students with alcohol is not the way to go in setting a positive example as to how officials should conduct themselves. Autiello and Farinas didn’t have to be saints, but they should have still obeyed the law.

It would be silly for these interns to believe that government, student or otherwise, are perfect, but the standards of professionalism and appropriateness must be significantly low to them at this point. If this didn’t disillusion them, then what followed next in terms of addressing and correcting the matter may have.

Requesting for all officials that witnessed and reported the conduct to resign in light of this situation was a lazy, unfair, one-size-fits-all solution to a much more complex problem.

In reality, Autiello and Farinas were the ones deeply involved with giving alcohol to the underage interns; ergo they definitely needed to be disciplined. However, the other officials were threatened with the prospect of docked pay and a trip to Student Conflict and Resolution for simply walking away.

I would hope that these individuals would have been rewarded for reporting the incident and leaving the situation to avoid involvement, not punished for creating a “liability” issue that didn’t exist. Instead, they were a part of this “one guilty all guilty” approach that created more problems than it solved.

I am happy to see that these individuals have mostly stood their ground and continue to serve as SGC-MMC senators and didn’t give into the pressure to give up their positions to present a façade of discipline that barely existed.

Autiello and Farinas have since resigned, it is a brand new year and a brand new semester.

Even so, I can only hope that SGC-MMC takes this as an example and demands more of their officials and their employees in the future. I also hope that they learn how to truly punish wrongdoing instead of trying to cover it up.

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