In a private, anonymous vote on Wednesday, the Student Assembly Executive Committee determined that Assemblymember Mitchell McBride ’17 did not violate the assembly’s ethics rules by videotaping protesters outside of a Tea Party leader’s lecture last week.
McBride, who is a member of the Executive Committee, recused himself from the deliberations and the subsequent vote, during which committee members put their heads down and voted anonymously by raising their hands.
“The S.A. Executive Committee has internally voted that in their opinion Mitch McBride did not violate the Student Assembly Standing Rules Ethics Clause,” S.A. Executive Vice President Matthew Indimine ’18, who chairs the Executive Committee, said in an email to assembly members. “As of this moment, no Student Assembly member has formally taken any action to remove McBride from any of his elected or appointed positions.”
On Feb. 14, McBride used a cell phone to record protesters outside of a closed lecture on campus by Tea Party leader Michael Johns and asked some of the dozen or so protesters for their names.
Some S.A. members previously told The Sun that they thought McBride appeared to have violated the assembly’s ethics by invoking his position on the University Assembly Codes and Judicial Committee when speaking with protesters, a claim McBride denied.
“I dispute that I was using my position on campus to intimidate [the protesters],” McBride told The Sun last week. “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 on Wednesday that he was able to present his account of events to committee members before their recommendation, and added that he was thankful political views were kept out of the discussion.
“I assumed that everything would be political and I assumed that the natural ideological divides would fall into line,” McBride said. “But, after deliberations, people who I disagree with a lot … even though they disagree with what I did, they acknowledged that it was not ethically wrong.”
“Even the people who I have fundamental ideological disagreements with acknowledged that fact,” he said. “That was vindicating.”
S.A. President Jordan Berger ’17 declined to release the vote tally because the vote was a recommendation and does not carry any legislative weight.
McBride said he recorded the protesters to defend the free speech of the lecturer and because he believes Cornell has not met its responsibility of enforcing the Campus Code of Conduct.
“Maybe other people wouldn’t have done it, but I think that I was the first person to really stand up to protesters because I think the University has really shirked the responsibility of upholding the code,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I represent all students and the students of Cornell University support free speech.”