Lying is bad.
This shouldn’t require an argument but if you need an example, the recent allegations concerning the Associated Students of the University of Nevada president Jake Pereira serve as quite the strong case.
While campaigning for office, Pereira lied about his membership in the University of Nevada, Reno’s secret society, Coffin and Keys. More recently, information was brought to light regarding a Coffin and Keys email that was mistakenly sent to ASUN attorney general Steven Kish. Pereira is being accused of using intimidation to get Kish to delete the email.
Now, on the grounds that Pereira’s actions are a show of poor character, the ASUN senate is scheduled to meet tomorrow to make a decision on whether or not to press forward with an impeachment trial.
And at the end of the day, nothing will change.
For all of the drama, controversy and scandalous headlines impeachment inspires, the possible removal of Pereira from office is an entirely futile gesture that fails to strike at the real issue at hand: the drastic ramifications of ASUN’s association with Coffin and Keys.
Before touching on that, however, one must understand the inherent pointlessness of punishing Pereira with impeachment. Although Pereira is being accused of a number of arguably minor acts of misconduct, the Judicial Council’s published opinion of assenting impeachment notes that the topic of Pereira’s potential removal from office was brought up due to his lack of transparency — namely, lying about his Coffin and Keys membership.
Now, besides the fact that Pereira’s official apology comes across more as an, “I’m sorry because I was caught, not because of what I did,” impeaching our president for a lack of transparency regarding a secret society as opposed to a wider lack of competent leadership skills is a mystifying act of poor judgment and pettiness.
Although it is noted that his affiliation with Coffin and Keys could be a conflict of interest, the aforementioned judicial opinion states that it “is not rendering this decision based on President Pereira’s affiliation with the organization.”
Either way, given the anonymous nature of Coffin and Keys, there’s really very little to stop these kinds of lies and acts of intimidation from becoming recurring issues.
Regardless of the outcome of Pereira’s impeachment, it’s disconcerting that his lack of transparency is the apparent highlight of this entire series of events. The wider issue at hand, ASUN’s association with Coffin and Keys, is made all the more worrisome given that Pereira and ASUN vice president Alex Bybee are both members of the secret society.
Despite its stated goals of being the voice for the student body and working for the betterment of the campus, Coffin and Keys’ published newsletters, the organization’s only tangible outputs, cross the fine line between constructive criticism and blatant obscenity.
The fact that both Pereira and Bybee, the de facto leaders and face of our student body, are members of an organization that is notorious for publishing articles espousing sexism, homophobia and otherwise egregiously hateful pieces about the campus and its students is nothing short of unacceptable.
Although Pereira and Bybee have stated that they have not been involved with the organization’s controversial publication, it is impossible to confirm the legitimacy of these claims.
Whether or not the two have been involved with what basically amounts to Coffin and Keys’ perpetuation of bigotry, the question of why they choose to be involved with such an organization — both Pereira and Bybee have stated that they will maintain their memberships — demands answering.
Pereira and Bybee have defended their memberships by expressing a belief that despite disagreeing with some of Coffin and Keys’ published articles, the organization has the potential to truly improve the university. Although they noted that Coffin and Keys has discussions regarding important university issues, they refused to elaborate on the specifics of how said discussions or their general involvement with the organization would actually result in the betterment of UNR.
While Coffin and Keys’ mission statement is sound, the fact of the matter is that despite whatever noble sentiments the organization claims to promote, their only traceable function is to print offensive and elitist documents. While the freedom of speech may allow for this, this kind of material has no place in a publication that claims to represent the student body and work to enhance the state of the campus.
The anonymity of Coffin and Keys may give them the power to publish such articles — which is an unprecedented issue in itself — but Pereira’s possible impeachment notwithstanding, neither he, Bybee nor anyone else in ASUN have absolutely any business being involved with such an organization.
Given the tone of Coffin and Keys’ only current discernible work, any involvement of the self-described voices of the student body — be they ASUN officials, members of the campus publications, or other related student leaders — with the organization is not only hypocritical, but genuinely toxic to the overall image and well-being of the university.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.