A matter of trust

At least last year and the year before, the Student Government Association (SGA) had the courtesy to tell the truth when scandal struck. Now, the latest revelations about the real reason George Gottschalk IV resigned from his position as executive vice president for student affairs will make it harder than ever to trust SGA.

Our real beef isn’t with Gottschalk’s conduct. Sure, it was juvenile. Making enlarged color copies of someone’s Husky Card is hardly conduct becoming a student leader. But it’s the cover-up that’s much more difficult to forgive. There’s never a good time to lie to the student body, but with the promise of direct elections and increased student governance in the spring, this is the worst possible time.

With the knowledge of SGA President Rogan O’Handley, Gottschalk went before his peers in Senate and The News – and indirectly, the students at large – and told a lie. He said he was stepping down for financial and academic reasons, omitting the truth. The truth is he was forced to step down after being placed on probation by the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

If Gottschalk was just an average guy, his transgression would be no big deal. But that’s not the case. Gottschalk is – by choice – a public figure in the Northeastern community, elected to serve the students. Those same students have a right to know why he has abandoned his post, and about the foolish behavior that got him into this situation.

We are disappointed in SGA, and more importantly, we have lost our trust in them. Mistakes happen, but trust takes a long time to build, and can be lost very quickly. This year especially, when SGA is reaching out to the students for their trust, time and energy, how can they expect students to commit to an organization that won’t come clean with them?

There are good people in SGA this year, working hard to make a difference and move Northeastern forward. It’s a shame that their efforts will be so overshadowed by the conduct – and lies – of a few.

We can only hope that when more power is given to the students in the spring, they will use that power to say “no” to an administration that has lied to them and failed to provide transparency every step of the way.

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