Press Clippings & Releases

Press Clipping: Bakersfield College - SGA officers removed from office for drinking

SGA officers removed from office for drinking

October 7, 2008
J. W. Burch, IV

Three members of SGA were sent home early from the ASGA National Student Government Summit, held in Washington, D.C., for consuming alcohol.

As a result, the three members – Vice President Karl Estill, 24; Legislative Liaison Belen Ortiz, 20; and Treasurer Omead Poure, 19 – were each removed from office.

When asked to comment on the situation, SGA President Lyne Mugema confirmed that "there was a violation of the student code of conduct and, as such, necessary measures were taken." Mugema would not comment regarding any more details.

Sources close to the situation say that seven SGA members and two advisers left Thursday, Sept. 25, at 6 a.m. for Washington, DC. That night, the two advisers of the trip, Dean of Students Angela Guadian-Mendez and honorary adviser Sandy Sierra, went to pick up the seventh from the airport because of a missed flight, leaving the other six SGA members unsupervised. The Rip made several attempts to reach Guadian-Mendez but was told she wouldn't be able to schedule an interview before the story deadline.

"We were at a restaurant having dinner down the street from the hotel," one of the three reprimanded said.

"We (Ortiz, Poure and Estill) ordered drinks with our dinner and the rest, as they say, is history."

Estill had ordered his drink first and voluntarily offered his identification to verify his age. Ortiz and Poure were not carded for the drinks that they had ordered.

"In the case of Belen and Omead, it (the removal from office) was a matter of illegality because they are underage," sources close to the situation said. "In the case of Karl, it is a technicality because of the code of conduct because he is of legal drinking age."

The student code of conduct states that "the use, sale, possession or being under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance prohibited by law, on campus or at any function sponsored or supervised by the College" is prohibited.

The next day, Friday, Sept. 26, the three who had consumed the alcoholic beverages were given plane tickets and sent home, arriving at 10 p.m. that night.

"We were in Washington, D.C., for less than 24 hours," one of the three said.

"We're going to have to pull together, buckle down and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps," Mugema said about the effects of the situation on the dynamics and inner workings of the SGA. "We're just going to have to move on as an SGA."

The trip, an annual occurrence for SGA, is student funded. The money spent, acquired through the $1 student representative fee from registered students, was as follows: approximately $900 per round trip airplane ticket, $200 for each two-person hotel room, approximately $250 per conference ticket, as well as $230 per diem for each SGA member in attendance.

It is unsure whether the positions of vice president, treasurer and legislative liaison will be refilled at this time.

The four remaining members of SGA went on to attend numerous workshops and went sightseeing while in Washington, D.C. In fact, Mugema got a chance to meet her favorite graphic novelist, Neil Gaiman, and take a picture with him.

One workshop that Mugema attended focused on voter turnout. The workshop brought to light a method by which voters would list their candidate choices by preference. Voters would list their first, second and third choices for each office.

Another workshop that interested Mugema was on affirmation statements.

"An affirmation reads like a poem but is like a mission statement or school spirit cheer," Mugema said. "It should be about 10 lines in length."

Mugema believes that an affirmation would help in achieving SGA's goals for this year. That goal is to enhance BC's reputation with not only the student body but also with the community.

"We want to change the view of Bakersfield College from such notions as ‘High School – The Sequel,' ‘Harvard on the Hill' or BC being ‘High School but you can smoke,' " Mugema said.