Hearing Possible in Ballot TheftBy Reuven M. Lerner
Disciplinary hearings for students implicated in the March 11 theft of an Undergraduate Association ballot box from Lobby 7 will probably begin within the next few weeks, according to Raajnish A. Chitaley '95, UA floor leader.
The four students -- Ross A. Lippert '93, Valerie J. Ohm '93, Ralph A. Santos '92, and Peter S. Yesley '92 -- met with James R. Tewhey, associate dean for residence and campus activities, two weeks ago.
Sanctions could range from disciplinary probation, which remains on a student's internal transcript but disappears upon graduation, to a letter of warning, to community service. The students might also be asked to compensate the UA for several hundred dollars spent in preparing a makeup election held on March 13.
"Tewhey just told us what our options were," Lippert said. "We can decide whether we wish to just settle out of court, as it were, and negotiate some sanctions, or do some big hearing."
The group was expected to inform Tewhey of its decision by Monday of this week. Yesley would not reveal what they decided, and Tewhey did not return telephone calls.
Jeremy H. Brown '94, who was implicated in the thefts by the UA Council, is no longer considered a suspect. "Whatever information the Campus Police had provided implicating me had been erroneous," said Brown, a former candidate for UA vice president. "I'm hoping to never have to hear about it again."
Chitaley said that the UA expects to hear next week from a "hearing officer," an administrator from the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs who will rule in the hearing.
Neal Dorow, advisor to fraternities and independent living groups, declined to comment on speculation that he might judge the case. "This is an internal office matter, and I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to say. ... Everybody in the Dean's Office has been involved in disciplinary hearings of one sort or another."
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Andrew M. Eisenmann '75, who is also said to be under consideration, was unavailable for comment.
The UA does not plan to look for more suspects, despite the fact that eyewitnesses saw more than four people take the ballot box. "The investigation is over," Chitaley said. "Much of this hearing process is to see the degree of involvement, if any, of these people. They are the prime suspects implicated in the theft."
Students circulate petition
Still unclear is the relationship between any possible hearings and a petition that has circulated among students in the last two weeks. The petition asks students to sign if they feel the UA does not represent them.
While a large number of students are said to have signed, Yesley, who has collected signatures for the petition, declined to say just how large that number is.
Students had mixed reactions to the petition, Yesley said. "One reason that people wouldn't sign it is that people didn't know what the UA was, and they were so apathetic that they didn't even want to sign it, because they didn't know either way."
Others declined because they felt the UA provides a valuable service, he added.
Ji H. Yoo '94, a resident of Baker House, signed the petition because "I haven't seen any visible effects the UA has had." Yoo suggested that the UA "label their events more clearly, to make it more visible to the average student."
The petition has not yet circulated in McCormick Hall or among the ILGs, according to Yesley. "It's difficult to communicate with them. We would love to have the petition go to the ILGs, we don't know exactly the right pathway for sending it."
UA officials dismissed the petition's significance. "No one ever came in to complain to us directly," said Hans C. Godfrey '93, whose term as UA floor leader expired on Wednesday night. Students should complain directly to the UA, rather than signing petitions condemning it, he added.
Chitaley agreed with this assessment. "The hearing process is of a disciplinary nature, and not a political nature."