SU launches investigation into reported anti-Semitic, sexually inappropriate comments

| Senior News Editor

After learning of possible anti-Semitic and sexually inappropriate comments made by members of Student Union, SU President and senior Kenneth Sng filed a report to the Office of Campus Life and the Constitutional Council Monday.

Sng received complaint from SU officials regarding four members of Student Union and reported the incidences. While a next course of action for the senators involved has not been determined, members of SU exec expect that Senate—canceled this Tuesday because of the investigation, according to Vice President of Administration and senior Cary Cheng—will be back in session next week.

Involved officers, who belong to Senate and class councils, have been notified of the report, and Constitutional Council and Campus Life will determine the next steps. According to Leslie Heusted, the executive director of Campus Life, SU has launched an internal investigation, and the Office of Campus Life is meeting with involved students to determine the next steps.

In an email delivered to the student body Monday, Sng wrote that SU takes these charges seriously and will hold involved officers accountable.

“We at Student Union view these incidents very seriously, not only because of how these remarks made members of the community feel uncomfortable and marginalized but also because of how it reflects on the larger culture of the group,” Sng wrote in his email.

Sng added that this event indicates broader problems within the campus climate which must be addressed.

He added that he was unsure whether or not to send the email but wanted to make sure senators were held accountable by students.

“The decision to send out the all-school email was a really difficult one. On one hand, we all know that the student body has the right to know about processes happening within Student Union, especially when Student Union is made up of officials who are directly elected by the student body, so you think there’s that level of transparency that must be had,” Sng said in an interview with Student Life. “At the same time, I want to acknowledge that information cannot be given out that might compromise the identity of officers that might be involved and also that might compromise the integrity of the office. The balance was the all-school email.”

Sng noted that this report is unrelated from the recent resignations of SU’s vice president of administration and three members of the Junior Class Council, adding that the report is also unrelated from the recent resignation of junior Ben Hauser, formerly Speaker of the Senate.

Hauser said he was surprised to learn of the investigation following his resignation, especially because he thought he had left Senate in good hands.

“It was a little bit jarring for me because I had written in my resignation letter that I was confident I was leading Senate past any major challenges and the rest of the semester would be smooth sailing,” Hauser said. “I resigned, and within half an hour I heard, ‘By the way, do you know there’s an investigation into Senate?’ So, I was pretty surprised. I was caught off-guard because I didn’t even know anything about it.”

Senior and SU Vice President of Administration Cary Cheng said he expects Senate to return to session next week, as there is more work to be done.

“We don’t want to rush into a Senate session where we have senators sit down and operate on incomplete information, so that’s what we want to avoid, Cheng said. “Senate does have very important business to attend to, and I think that’s our number one priority right now, is to wait for Campus Life and Con Council to complete their investigation and report their findings and then sort of reconvene as soon as possible so we can move ahead with the things we have planned for the rest of the semester.”

Sophomore senator Brian Adler said he is concerned about Senate’s ability to be constructive with the uncertainty regarding the situation.

“I am very worried about the remaining few weeks and our ability to continue where we left off before Spring elections, and I think others feel the same way,” Adler wrote to Student Life. “I think most of us share that same concern and, frankly, don’t know who we’re not going to see at the next meeting. It’s a weird feeling. I really, really love SU and have devoted the last year and a half to it so I really hope we can still do good work.”

Sophomore senator Lydia Duran agreed that this is a shift for Student Union but noted that the March 7 election is coming up.

“It’s definitely a transition period for SU right now, so it’s a good thing that elections are coming up. I’m confident in the current and future SU Exec to keep things on track despite everything that has happened in the last few weeks,” Duran wrote.

The University declined to comment on the status of this ongoing investigation, along with five Student Union senators.

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