In what some are calling a controversial nomination, last Friday USUAA Student Government appointed freshman Brian Haerer, a criminal justice major, to the Senate in a 15-3 vote with one vote abstaining.
Because of Haerer’s upcoming pledge with the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, many members of the assembly expressed concern that his relationship with the club was a conflict of interest.
At the meeting, Senator Zach Liszka asked Haerer several questions, but the focus of his inquiry was regarding Haerer’s pledging with SAE.
“As a hypothetical question – in the past SAE has come to us and requested money, and they’ve been kind of controversial in the way that they’ve done it,” Liszka said. “How are you going to keep a separation between your voice in the senate and your voice in the fraternity?”
Haerer said it depended on what they were requesting money for. “If it involved any student body getting a social event – not just for SAE, but for the whole student body, is a good thing.”
Liske said he wanted to know what Haerer’s priority was, pledging or student government. Haerer said both were important to him.
Haerer is not the first appointed official in USUAA to be a simultaneous member of SAE. President Karl Wing is a current member of SAE. Liszke is a former member.
“SAE is just another club,” stated Senator Phillip Louie, who voted for Haerer. “All leaders run into the same conflict. No one is perfect.”
In fact, many state senators and House representatives have at one time or another been under close scrutiny for allegations of conflicts of interest. It is not uncommon for code of ethic breaches to occur in state and federal government; however, it is rarely without a parley of criticism and impeachment hearings – being human is not a defense.
SAE member, USUAA’s President Karl Wing nominated Haerer for the Senate position.
“He’s a freshman. He wants to get involved,” Wing said.
Wing said that the Senate’s line of questioning seemed particularly harsh. “I could not tell you why they treated him differently” than the other nominations. He said he does not think that Haerer’s involvement with SAE will compromise his ability to sit on the Senate.
“My affiliations made me a great leader on campus,” he said.
Wing and other members of the Senate said that abstaining from a vote was always an option should it seem that a conflict of interest may arise.
According to Section One, Clause Three of the USUAA Bylaws, “No member of the Assembly will vote on any business where a conflict of interest may arise” and an abuse of power to gain preferential treatment will not be tolerated. Both are impeachable offenses.