Con Council completes SU investigation, does not go forward with recall process

| Senior News Editor

After investigating potentially anti-Semitic and sexually inappropriate comments made by Student Union officers, Constitutional Council decided not to go forward with the recall process by a vote of 4-1.

Senior Kenneth Sng, SU’s president, filed a report against three senators and a class council representative to Con Council and the Office of Campus Life last Monday after a member of Student Union reported incidents—both verbal and through the instant messaging platform Slack—to him.

In the official decision, Con Council acknowledged that the words were not necessarily an appropriate representation of how officers should conduct themselves, despite the decision not to go to the next stage of the recall process.

“We are not making any determination on the nature of the words themselves. Rather we are acknowledging the role of the Constitutional Council to determine if as officers, the Constitution or Statutes were violated,” the official opinion reads.

Student Union exec will discuss next steps for how to deal with the officers today, according to junior Amelia Fong, SU’s vice president of public relations. Anna Warbelow from Campus Life—which was waiting for Con Council’s decision before proceeding, according to Sng—will be also be present at the meeting.

But, Sng said the comments were inappropriate, even with Con Council’s ruling.

“I respect Constitutional Council’s decision, and I can see where they’re coming from. I think that they made their ruling based on what was stated in the constitution,” Sng said. “But I do agree with them that this doesn’t mean the comments that were made were unproblematic and should not be addressed.”

A discussion will be held by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) at Tuesday’s Senate session. Additionally, SU Vice President of Administration Cary Cheng plans to schedule a diversity training, something that SU has hoped to organize since a senator posted a survey conflating sex and gender last semester.

While not all senators were involved in the reported comments, Sng said that he believes that, because this discussion occurred in a group message between all senators, they are indicative of a problem with Senate’s culture.

“The comments were made in the Senate Slack, and I do think that the fact that these comments were made in a Slack where all the senators were involved means that everyone in their group chat had some sort of responsibility toward making sure we correct the culture as a whole, which is why I think the CDI should come in to facilitate a discussion, especially given the nature of the comments that were being made,” Sng said.

Junior and senator Danny Weiner agreed that the talk is important but noted that it is just a first step.

“This dialogue facilitated by the CDI on Tuesday is obviously the most important next step for Senate,” Weiner said. “But I absolutely do believe that further action is necessary. I’ve actually been pretty encouraged by some of the reactions I’ve seen within Senate; there’s been a concentrated effort by some of the senators to educate individuals within the body, going so far as to basically mandate training for all newly elected representatives after inauguration.”

Members of Senate noted that these incidents point to problems within Senate’s culture, even though Con Council will not further pursue the recall. Senators also emphasized that SU officials—who have been elected to their positions—should be held to higher standards than students in general.

“SU officers should hold themselves to a higher standard and it’s clear that there’s still work that needs to be done to ensure that officers understand these standards. In senate in particular, we are looking to collaborate with the [Diversity Affairs Council] and CDI to create and plan mandatory diversity and inclusion trainings for current senators,” sophomore senator Tyler Tran wrote.

“Our elected officials have to be held to a higher standard,” Weiner agreed. “There is an element of greater accountability in terms of ‘Are we truly the best individuals to perform that position of advocacy?’”

Sophomore senator Brian Adler added that conduct like this is negative for SU and Washington University as a whole, adding that students might feel like their representatives will not advocate for their best interests as a result of this kind of behavior.

“Students here deserve kind and just representatives who are not anti-Semitic, victim-blaming or proprietors of sexual harassment. And regardless of the severity of what happened, this really hurts SU and all members of our community,” Adler said. “The very thought that our representatives may have said and meant these things—although I hope they were not said with any malice—is enough to leave people feeling as though their representatives really aren’t there for them.”

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