‘No violation’ for College Dems
After settling reports of misconduct, the College Democrats were recently given the OK to “keep moving forward.”
Drug-related misconduct reports surrounded two College Democrats officers, but a “not in violation” decision after an Oct. 4 hearing allowed the registered student organization to resume its normal activities.
The decision was announced about an hour after the hearing and UCF spokesman Chad Binette verified the result in an email.
The organization’s president, Mikaela Mendoza-Cardenal, also verified the result of the hearing in a statement.
“The College Democrats at UCF take pride in being one of the largest and most active organizations on campus. We are pleased to state that the hearings for violations of conduct filed against two of our officers have been resolved. Both hearings resulted in a ‘Not in Violation’ ruling. We thank our current membership for their support and we are excited to keep moving forward,” Mendoza-Cardenal said.
A hearing took place after the Office of Student Conduct was notified on Sept. 9 of illegal drug activity that happened during a College Democrats off-campus event.
An incident reporting form provided by UCF News and Information stated, “The smell of drugs were pervasive throughout the apartment. When I mentioned the pungent and obvious smell to [an officer], she informed me that [an officer] and [an officer] were both smoking illicit drugs behind closed doors in the bedroom. All three officers present were aware of the drugs being consumed at the event, and … were the only two actually partaking in illegal activities.”
The names of the officers have not been released.
The incident took place on Aug. 23 when the organization hosted a Women’s Suffrage March preparation party at an off-campus apartment located in Waterford East Apartments. Members of the organization gathered to make signs, sashes, T-shirts and a banner to express their support of the women’s movement, according to the incident form.
The form also stated that 12 other people in attendance of the preparation party witnessed the incident.
Those individuals could verify that the leadership of the organization has operated events under the influence of drugs or alcohol before, according to the UCF documents.
“This is not the first time where the leadership has admitted to hosting College Democrats events under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol. (It should be noted, that all of the leadership is under the legal drinking age.) There are witnesses listed above that will verify that the leadership has confirmed to them personally, that they were under the influence before and during various College Democrats events — from Days of Action, to Strategy Sessions, to General Meetings, to voter registrations, etc.," the document from Student Conduct stated.
Mendoza-Cardenal said she believes that a past member of the organization is responsible for the accusations and contradicted the statement on the form.
She said, “It has been disappointing to see past members of our organization, for whatever reason, make false accusations toward our executive board. The College Democrats at UCF practice professionalism at all organizational events, and follow the Golden Rule at all times.”
The organization faced consequences including a disciplinary warning, probation, suspension, revocation of UCF registration and recommendation for charter revocation.
In addition, the organization faced educational sanctions, which include reflection papers, seminars and community service among others.
However, effects of the accusations against the leadership have not trickled down to the members, sophomore biology education student and College Democrat John Svurka said.
“They’re treating members the same way they were before the trial,” Svurka said. “It was more of a leadership problem and not a group problem so the group shouldn’t be affected.”
Svurka believes the accusations won’t affect future membership, either.
“It might turn students off, but it’s a big group and it has a lot of force on campus so I don’t think it will affect much,” he said.
The “not in violation” decision will allow the College Democrats at UCF to operate as normal and continue with its upcoming meetings and events, such as weekly general meetings and tabling outside of the Student Union on Wednesday for Body Positivity Day of Action.
“We’re all grown up so I don’t think we’ll let it affect anything,” Svurka said.
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