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October 28, 2015
Former senior Class President Jacob Gore lost his position while senior Vice President Brendan Clark maintains his as a result of principal Tom Mead’s ruling. This decision followed a hearing before a student board, in which Gore and Clark argued to keep their respective positions. The senior Steering Committee elected Natalie Finn as their new class president on October 27.
At the hearings the petitioners, senior class advisers Melissa Arvanigian and Danielle DeCiero, discussed how Gore and Clark’s actions each were “unbefitting of a class officer,” according to their statements referencing the Student Council Constitution at both hearings, which took place consecutively on October 21.
The boys were tried by a board of students, who later presented their official recommendation to Mead for consideration in his final decision. This board included senior Student Council President Dan Greene, the class presidents from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes, and Senior Class Treasurer Lily Scearbo.
Gore was called before the student board on grounds of disruption of assembly and indecent exposure. Gore and a fellow senior ran naked across the football field, wearing only Obama masks, during the October 2 home game against Hudson.
“I, along with a couple of my friends, decided to partake in what we thought would be only a funny and enjoyable prank, for most people,” Gore said in his statement at the hearing. “We foolishly did not recognize the large impact it would have on not only ourselves but our classmates, our school, and our community. Since then, we came forward and confessed to being the ones who did it. We have received ample punishment and are still working through community service to better ourselves in the eyes of our community, in light of what happened.”
“There are laws and rules and expectations and societal morays that say you act one way in public and you don’t act another way in public,” Mead said prior to the hearing, of Gore’s actions. “And that does go to gestures, clothing- or the lack of clothing, too.”
Petitioners Arvanigian and DeCiero argued against Gore at the hearing, asserting that after graduation, Gore may not be trustworthy enough to hold the class funds for future reunions.
“As a leader, you should be somebody that your community trusts to make wise decisions and thinks through their decisions beforehand, and also the repercussions of those decisions,” DeCiero said. “Streaking speaks to the fact that that was not thought of ahead of time, the repercussions in the extent to which weren’t thought of ahead of time.”
Gore recognized his mistake, but argued that he should be able to continue his role as president of the senior class.
“I did do something unbefitting of a class president; I agree with that,” Gore said. “But I don’t think it was quite awful and against the class enough to warrant an impeachment, per se.”
Clark’s trial regarded his posting of a video of Gore’s streaking on Clark’s personal Twitter account.
In his statement, Clark referenced the Student Council Constitution just as the petitioners did, but to reason that he should not be having a trial at all. Clark claimed that because he (unlike the class president) is not a member of the Student Council- just the Steering Committee- the codes from the Constitution did not apply to him.
“Based on this Constitution here, I didn’t do anything wrong,” Clark said at the hearing. “I didn’t violate it at all.”
The advisers claimed that Clark, through posting the video on Twitter, was demonstrating “endorsement or promotion of an inappropriate action.” They also argued that because that day was the first time the Student Council Constitution had been referenced to “impeach” an officer, assumptions from the text would have to be made.
“The document was sort of meant to embody what it means to be a leader [in] student government,” DeCiero said. “It was meant to be loose. We’ve never been in this situation before because we’ve never had officers act in this manner before in any way, shape or form. We haven’t had to utilize this document before, so it’s not going to be perfect.”
“They referenced the Constitution very specifically, and then when I referenced it back, they kind of just dismissed it as being loose and just kind of made a lot of assumptions that were not necessarily correct,” Clark said after the hearing.
Clark did remove the video from his Twitter account, but the advisers claimed there was no taking back the action, nor its repercussions.
“If I could go back in time, I would not have posted that video, knowing that this would all happen,” Clark said. “It was a mistake, and I do regret it.”
After the hearing’s conclusion the Student Council Judicial Committee discussed what they thought of the different arguments at the trial, but were careful not to reveal anything that might indicate the results of their recommendation for Mead.
“I think Jake is a good kid,” Greene said. “I think Jake’s a funny kid. I consider him a friend, and an ally in Steering Committee and in Student Council. But I think that he made a bad decision. He shouldn’t have done what he did.”
“In terms of the statement that the advisers made, I think that they had some pretty strong points about the way that Jake portrayed the Algonquin student body to the community at such a public event,” Sophomore President Laura Shi said. “I think he admitted to his wrongdoing, but it didn’t take away from the fact that he did something like that.”
“I think Jake did the best he could do under the evidence,” Junior President Brendan Foley said. “He had so much against him. But he was apologetic and I think that really helped his case.”
“I think the advisers made a good point that you’re held to a really high standard when you’re a class president, and he didn’t hold up to that standard,” Freshman President Matthew White said. “But I thought it was good of Jake that he was doing community service to make up for it.”
In Clark’s case, not all of the members of the Judicial Committee agreed with his arguments, but they also did not seem to believe he had done much wrong.
“If someone were to tweet a link to a news article, that wouldn’t mean that they endorsed whatever happened in the article,” Greene said. “It’s just purely journalistic.”
“For Brendan, he had some great argumentative points against the reason why the trial should have taken place,” Shi said. “I think that he was just exercising his right of freedom of speech as he tweeted something.”
Greene was unsure of why Clark was having a trial in the first place.
“I think there was a lot of prejudice against Jake and Brendan,” Greene said. “Jake admitted that what he had done was unbefitting, but I don’t really think that what Brendan did was unbefitting of an officer. I honestly think he [Brendan] was looped in because he was Jake’s good friend. It’s very well known that the two of them are good friends. They’ve run as pair candidates in the past, they were voted best friends by the Class of 2016… If any of the other class officers were at the game… and posted it on Twitter, there would be absolutely nothing that happened.”
Along with the other members of the Judicial Board, Greene questioned why both the petitioners and the defendants avoided discussion of the tension between the two groups in the past.
“I asked the advisers a couple of questions about their history and their tension with Jake, and I was kind of surprised by their answers, because I didn’t find them to be truthful,” Greene said. “There is a tension between Jake, Brendan, and the advisers. There’s a long history of that tension.”
“I don’t know how much the advisers were telling the truth,” Foley said. “I think they were keeping a lot out of the case, like their relationship with Jake and Brendan previous to everything. They’ve just never had a good relationship with them. I think that affected their decision.”
The petitioners opted not to comment on the trial’s proceedings. The Judicial Board had mixed responses to Clark’s statements at the hearing.
“He was very arrogant, the way he just started off with not apologizing,” Foley said. “Jake sort of apologized, then sort of tried to defend himself. Brendan started off with, ‘I shouldn’t be here.’ He did make a mistake. He did… put [the video] on his account. You have to be careful with what you put on social media, and I don’t think he thought about it at all. It was careless and reckless.”
Before hearing Mead’s verdict, which was announced two days after the hearing, Gore and Clark discussed the trials and their outlooks for the future.
“I never meant it to offend people, and I never meant for it to affect the class in anything but a positive way,” Gore said. “I’m ready to work hard to better myself in the eyes of my peers… I still think that it was a harmless and hilarious prank, [but] I’m sorry to anyone that was offended by it.”
Both Gore and Clark agreed that Gore’s trial had been fair, but found even the idea of Clark’s trial preposterous.
“I think Brendan’s trial was a mockery of a trial because he did not do anything wrong,” Gore said. “Anyone can tweet a video. I think their point of him endorsing it by posting it is a stretch to say the least.”
“The very fact that I had a trial was kind of ridiculous, and I really did nothing that deserved for it to even happen in the first place,” Clark said.