Resigned senator alleges mistreatment from USG peers

Written By Alex Grubbs, USG Beat Writer

Turmoil hit student government after a former senator accused the treasurer of singling him out for his conservative views, sparking his eventual resignation.

Former senator Mario Avila said United Student Government (USG) Treasurer Amedea Baldoni took screenshots of his Facebook posts and showed USG advisors in hopes of his suspension, disagreeing with the content of the posts.

“They had an unofficial meeting about me to decide what to do, but everything I’ve been active in on social media has been objective,” Avila said. “They just haven’t been approving of it.”

Avila said the range of posts included Bible verses and gender roles based off religious views. He continued saying that in an unofficial meeting, a representative told him how the executive cabinet feels about him.

“It was just more thatthey’re not liking what I’m posting. They think I’m racist and homophobic,” Avila said, “which is really sad because I don’t think I ever posted anything that comes off like that.”

He resigned from USG following Oct. 24’s USG meeting, a week before the second club and organization funding period began.

Gracey Evans, a former senator who resigned within the same week, echoed Avila in his accusation of Baldoni, based off a former confrontation with the treasurer.

Evans is also the sports photo editor at the Globe.

“At first, we thought that it was just stemming from [Baldoni’s] dislike of me onto him,” Evans said. “But then it just kind of started dissipating from me and going on to him.”

Baldoni dismissed the accusation as miscommunication and that the situation was solved.

“We all told [the senators] to watch their social media presence to make sure that it’s appropriate and not offensive,” Baldoni said. “It wasn’t meant to center him out, but he took it as if he was.”

In terms of showing advisors Deans Keith Paylo and Michael Gieseke, Baldoni said she did not show them any posts, saying that accusation came from rumors amongst the student government.

She added that the accusation also stemmed from an October New York Post article including interviews from USG President Blaine King, Vice President Bobby Bertha and herself.

“He said something about the article in the New York Post wasn’t equal representation of the Republicans on campus,” Baldoni said.

Sabrina Bodon, press secretary for USG and online editor for the Globe, believes that the accusation was unwarranted.

“The idea that the executive cabinet would suspend anyone on their beliefs is completely unethical and not what we stand for,” Bodon said.

She oversees all media pertaining to USG and spoke to Avila regarding his posts.

“Specifically, I made it a point, as I did with the legislative body, that when discussing politics or views to keep USG out of it,” Bodon said.

Parliamentarian Charles Murria claimed that Avila did not step out-of-line while representing USG on social media.

“I told him that [his views] shouldn’t affect his job, and it didn’t,” Murria said.

But he said there were some questionable instances.

“I was completely fine with what he was posting, to a point,” Murria said. He added that since he is not the press secretary, he did not really monitor Avila’s social media to pinpoint a specific post.

He also countered Avila’s claims, pointing out the culture of the USG legislative body, saying it is comprised of mostly Republicans.

“I think he wasn’t being centered out,” Murria said. “A number of [senators] are very conservative, and I think if he would have reached out for help, he could have found some support if he was being attacked.”

As parliamentarian, Murria attributed the university’s guidelines to what needs to be upheld with social media presence within USG.

According to the 2016-2017 handbook, some postings “can subject a student to allegations of conduct violations if evidence of policy violations is posted online. The university does not regularly search for this information but may take action if and when such information is brought to the attention of university officials.”

An instance of USG controversy surrounding social media dates back to a 2014 Facebook post by former recording secretary Shanah Hupp linked USG with the promotion of rape culture.

Reported by the Globe, Hupp shared a picture on Facebook with the caption, “Before you ask every man in the world to change their fundamental physiology to suit your irresponsible behavior, maybe you can concentrate on something you CAN change, like your slutty outfit!”

She added to the post, “Exactly.” This led to an online petition by then-sophomore Livia Rice to recognize that most of the student body did not agree with clothing as a justification for sexual assault.

USG currently has no formal policy when it comes to social media presence online in its constitution, but the rules committee is currently working on a new policy.

This policy will be sent to the legislative body for approval within the next two weeks.

Baldoni and Murria’s comments do not represent USG’s executive cabinet.