Executive Vice President Matthew Indimine '18 (left) said Thursday that Assemblymember Mitchell McBride ’17 may have violated S.A. ethics rules at Tuesday's protest.

Michael Wenye Li / Sun Staff Photographer

Executive Vice President Matthew Indimine '18 (left) said Thursday that Assemblymember Mitchell McBride ’17 may have violated S.A. ethics rules at Tuesday's protest.

February 16, 2017

S.A. Member May Have Violated Ethics Rule at Protest, His Colleagues Say

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Students and members of the Student Assembly sharply criticized on Thursday an assemblymember who videotaped and asked for the names of protesters outside of a Tea Party leader’s private lecture on campus this week.

Some members of the assembly said his actions may have violated S.A. ethics rules.

The controversy stems from Tuesday night, when about 15 students gathered outside of Rockefeller Hall to protest a lecture by Michael Johns, a Tea Party leader and former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush hosted by the Cornell Political Union.

Assemblymember Mitchell McBride ’17, who chairs the University Assembly Codes and Judicial Committee, recorded videos of some protesters with a cell phone and asked for their names, warning that their protest could result in judicial action by the University.

Two assembly members who were not at the protest told The Sun they believe McBride violated the assembly’s ethic standards based on accounts from protesters. The assembly’s ethical standards prohibit S.A. members from “using the name of the S.A. outside of the bounds of the individual’s described role on the S.A.”

Allison Lapehn ’17, who protested outside of the private event, said McBride told protesters he could use contacts within the administration to ensure the protesters were punished and that he could rewrite the code of conduct, a claim McBride strongly denied in an interview Thursday.

“I never said that I would rewrite the code,” McBride said. “I dispute that I was using my position on campus to intimidate them. I told them that I wasn’t there on behalf of any body. I was there as a regular member of the community trying to uphold the campus code of conduct.”

McBride said he videotaped protesters to help the University enforce campus policy and that Judicial Administrator Michelle Horvath had told him recording protesters is the appropriate response if protesters may be violating campus policies.

“It was important to attain that evidence, and that’s the way I was recommended to attain evidence based on meetings I had had with the judicial administrator’s office,” McBride said, adding that he has a responsibility to make sure the code is upheld.

Assemblymember Mitchell McBride ’17 vigorously denied protesters' claims on Thursday that he had warned them he could rewrite the campus code to ensure they were punished.

Michael Wenye Li / Sun Staff Photographer

Assemblymember Mitchell McBride ’17 vigorously denied protesters’ claims on Thursday that he had warned them he could rewrite the campus code to ensure they were punished.

Cornell Police were present at the event, which Cornell Political Union President Troy LaCaire ’17 said was made private at the urging of Cornell Police Chief Kathy Zoner, who he said cited security concerns.

Chief Zoner told The Sun on Thursday night that police had not referred any protesters to the Judicial Administrator for code violations. She declined to say whether protesters violated the Campus Code of Conduct, which forbids protesters from disrupting events or speakers “on the grounds that they find it stupid, immoral, or dangerous.”

“Whether or not a code violation occurred is left to the Office of the Judicial Administrator,” Zoner said in an email. “Our officers focused on keeping the peace and doing their best to keep the event from being disrupted.”

Executive Vice President Matt Indimine ’18 and Julia Montejo ’17, vice president of diversity and inclusion, said McBride appeared to have violated the ethics standards by invoking his status as chair of the U.A. Codes and Judicial Committee in conversations with protesters.

The S.A. Executive Committee plans to hold a meeting next week to discuss the potential ethics violation, Montejo said.

“I personally think it does fall in the area of an ethics violation, so I think this is a conversation the S.A. needs to have,” she said.

Indimine said he believes any student at Cornell has the right to videotape protesters, but said McBride appeared to have violated the ethics clause by mentioning his position on the committee.

McBride told The Sun that he only referred to his position as chair of the committee after protesters asked if he was an elected student representative.

During public comment at the S.A. meeting Thursday evening, students lambasted McBride, calling his actions “embarrassing” and “disappointing.”

One student, Jaëlle Sanon ’19, ripped into McBride for what she said was his “disgusting” behavior at the protest.

“Frankly, who do you think you are? That is my question — who do you think you are to be policing?” Sanon said, adding that McBride’s actions felt similar to racial profiling.

Several assembly members also used the public comment portion of the meeting to criticize McBride’s actions.

Traciann Celestin ’19 said she was frustrated that McBride did not use the S.A. meeting to interact with or respond to members of the public who were opposed to his actions.

“Usually he’s the most talkative white man in this room, using his white privilege, and I must say his silence is very disappointing today,” Celestin said.

“To limit free speech is honestly disgusting,” said Richard Wang ’18. “I think that no speech should be policed on campus in the way that it was, and I think everyone should be able to have their voice heard on campus.”

McBride, in the interview, said he is an ardent protector of free speech and that any notion otherwise is “fallacious,” noting that he passed an amendment in the fall that ensured students could protest with amplified sound between noon and 1 p.m. without needing a permit.

If McBride is found to have violated the ethics standards, the S.A. Executive Board, Dean of Students and the Office of Assemblies will determine the disciplinary consequences.

Indimine and Montejo said they were aware of multiple protesters who had gone into the Office of Assemblies and asked about the process of forcing McBride to resign from the assembly. Both assemblymembers declined to say whether they thought McBride should be removed.

Sanon said she plans to try to get the signatures, and Lapehn, the protester, said she thinks McBride should be booted from his seat in the assembly.

“Mitch McBride has not only made it clear that he will only protect free speech that aligns with his own views, but also that he is willing to shame and intimidate his constituents in order to push his platform forward,” Lapehn said. “I think that’s a disgusting abuse of power, and I hope that the S.A. recalls him.”

To force a vote on McBride’s seat, students would have to collect signatures from 15 percent of Cornell’s undergraduate population within two weeks. Then, the entire student body would vote on whether McBride should remain in his seat.

McBride said that he did not mean to intimidate students by telling them that their protest could violate the Campus Code of Conduct, adding, “If that did come off as a threat, I regret that.”

“I think that coming after me is fine, but I’m a second semester senior,” McBride said. “I think [protesters] should spend their time … advocating for what they believe in in a respectful manner that adheres to the principle of freedom with responsibility, as under the code.”

  • Abe ’14

    I am in complete support of McBride. I don’t know him. I have no idea who he is. But if these protestors are so upset that someone was videotaping them for the purpose that was stated, then maybe they should rethink their actions. Don’t do it in public if you don’t want it public.

  • The SA is awful

    This is a bizarre slander of McBride and I’m questioning why it was even printed without a shred of evidence. Indimine is a slimy individual who is really a noxious person behind the scenes. Please please do not elect him president next year, Cornell.

  • Frederick Blake

    Their “protest” could (and did) violate the Campus Code of Conduct? How is Mitch saying that and recording proof an ethical abuse? And the “white privilege” comment from a member of the SA is frankly nauseating.

  • Big Red Alumnus

    Protesters have no expectation of privacy — that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? So no grounds to complain about being videotaped. As to things that may have been said, well, chalk it about as dickishness, if not a minor abuse of his position in the Assembly.

    • Big Red Student

      The point isn’t that he was videotaping, it’s that he was doing it as a threat to the protesters.

  • Tarek

    When he entered college Matthew Indimine was a conservative and actually pleasant to be around. Now he’s this sorry excuse for a person. When she entered college Julia Montejo wasn’t arrogant and entitled (as far as I know, perhaps she was just quiet about it). Now she’s vilifying one of her colleagues without cause because she doesn’t like his politics. This, ladies and gentleman (yes, there are only two genders), is why we need conservative faculty.

    • Yeah ok

      Thanks for clarifying that there is only two genders, that’s super relevant to what you said and the article and I definitely wouldn’t have known otherwise. You just educated the heck out of me thank you so much wow this is eye opening the snowflake in me is melting away please marry me (o n l y if you are boy, because I am a girl gender and sinning is really bad)

      • Ben

        According to SJWs, there is no gender, so you did need reminding. BTW, your attempt at sarcasm is really lame. Try harder next time.

        • sure ok

          What, are you offended that gender is a social construct? Would you prefer that I coddle your close-mindedness?

    • Logistics

      Let’s think about the logistics of bringing in conservative faculty and the underlying assumptions.

      1) How will you define “conservative”?

      2) How will you test the level of “conservativeness” in a potential faculty member? Just registering as a Republican won’t be enough, as evidenced by last year’s election. Also, there’s no validated tool. Someone could be fiscally conservative but socially liberal as well. Where do you draw the line?

      3) How will you test to see if bringing conservatives faculty members will be beneficial for students?

      4) Do you wonder why there’s fewer conservatives in academia? It’s because the conservative party’s goals tend to contradict the scientific culture. it would be very difficult to find a conservative in the humanities since conservatives have floated the idea of cutting back research in this area.

      5) To not be hypocritical, we will need to also hire more faculty based on race, genders (more than 2), sexual orientation, etc. Would you be ready for that?

  • nunya

    More liberal intolerance on a university campus. I would encourage more videotaping and uploading to youtube to demonstrate the hypocrisy and expose the snowflakes to more sunlight.

  • rod berne

    every one of those protestors would murder and/or torture white cornell students with a smile on their faces.

  • Tip4U

    wow w ow wow wowowowowow w ow w o w wowowowowow ooooooooo wow