Jason Wu and Ming DeMers/Sun Senior Photographers

The Office of Ethics recommended an internal recall vote of Vice Presidents Clyde Lederman '26 and Rocco DeLorenzo '24 for their series of ethical violations.

April 16, 2024

Breaking Down the Office of Ethics Report on High-Ranking Student Assembly Members

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The Student Assembly Office of Ethics on Sunday, April 14 released a 38-page investigatory report on allegations against several high-ranking S.A. members. The Sun broke down the report to summarize the ethical violations against Vice President of Finance George Rocco DeLorenzo ’24, Vice President of Internal Operations Clyde Lederman ’26 and President Patrick Kuehl ’24.

The Student Assembly will vote on whether to hold a recall vote on DeLorenzo and Lederman at its Thursday, April 18 meeting at the recommendation of the Office of Ethics.

What’s Included in the Report?

The Office of Ethics’ report outlined several violations of the Student Assembly’s Code of Ethics by current S.A. leaders alongside findings that were not direct violations but give an unprecedented look into how power is divvied up behind the scenes among undergraduate representatives. 

The Office of Ethics defines an ethical violation to constitute “the improper or unauthorized use of Student Assembly name, reputation, resources or channels for personal gain or advantage within the bounds of the Student Assembly to obtain special treatment, access to resources and opportunities or favorable treatment.”

Here are the report’s findings broken down by each Student Assembly member investigated by the Office of Ethics.

Findings for Vice President of Finance Rocco DeLorenzo ’24

As reported in The Sun on March 21, the Office of Ethics found that DeLorenzo coordinated with then-presidential candidate Pedro Da Silveira ’25 during the Spring 2023 election to protect Greek life, “primarily through the suppression of information related to Greek life and/or considered to be ‘controversial’ within that context,” though this was not officially deemed an ethical violation.

In February 2023, DeLorenzo — then the Interfraternity Council president — messaged Da Silveira that a “machine greek life sweep” was coming that would work to prevent changes to the Greek life system from being considered by the Assembly. 

When asked what the “mandate of the machine” would be for the upcoming year, DeLorenzo wrote: “Probably two rules – 1. Don’t do anything controversial 2. Leave greek life alone.” The pair messaged about the influence of Greek life on the Student Assembly several times throughout the campaign period.

DeLorenzo was also found to have coordinated with Da Silveira during the Spring 2023 election to block specific candidates or influences on the Student Assembly, which also was found to not be a violation of the Code of Ethics. The report points to a dinner between DeLorenzo and Da Silveira on Feb. 16, 2023, during which the pair discussed the possibility of running together to oppose the presidential run of Sanvi Bhardwaj ’24, who was previously the top sponsor of a resolution condemning Greek life.

The resolution — written in the wake of the suspension of all Cornell fraternity parties over sexual assault and drugging allegations in November 2022 — called fraternities “misogynistic, racist and transphobic institutions that perpetuate sexual assault and harassment.”

In a special Student Assembly meeting on Sunday, DeLorenzo publicly spoke about his allegations for the first time. “When [the Condemning Greek Life] resolution was approved, I felt as if I failed my community. The demeaning remarks about my community felt targeted,” he said.

The Office of Ethics found evidence that DeLorenzo solicited and compiled candidates to run together in a Greek life slate. Inspired by the University of Alabama’s Theta Nu Epsilon — an underground Greek life society referred to as ‘The Machine’ that influenced how members of Greek life vote in student government elections — DeLorenzo compiled a small list of “Student Assembly TNE Candidates” in a Google Sheet and an Apple Notes document on March 22, 2023, though this was determined to not violate ethical rules as slating was permitted during that time.

“Some of the friendships that I have formed on the Assembly have been misinterpreted to be evidence of a fully coordinated machine that can directly exert control throughout this organization,” DeLorenzo said. “This preconceived notion is entirely false. I can confirm to the best of my knowledge that a machine-style organization does not exist and has not existed.”

Despite his Sunday statement, DeLorenzo, along with Da Silveira and their allies on the Student Assembly, belonged to a group chat in March 2023 titled “The Machine (Theta Nu Epsilon).”

The report further found that DeLorenzo was aware of a Title IX allegation against Da Silveira during the election cycle as first reported in The Sun, though he waited until Da Silveira was elected president to make this knowledge public. This did not constitute an ethical violation, but the Office of Ethics stressed that failing to report this allegation to them “weakens the Assembly’s ability to form a proper response to potential misconduct or ethical breaches.”

“Between February and early April, [Da Silveira] contacted me multiple times to provide details about an ongoing interpersonal relationship,” DeLorenzo said. “Due to the frequency of the communication and communication from [Da Silveira] indicating his intent to file a counterclaim against one of the initial complaints, I attempted to further distance myself from [Da Silveira] starting in late March and throughout April.”

DeLorenzo further stated that the proper University channels were investigating the allegation against Da Silveira and that he “did not need to take any additional action at that time.”

However, DeLorenzo was found to have violated the S.A. Code of Ethics for mobilizing Cornell Democrats-endorsed candidates to form a coalition to discuss concerns about Da Silveira prior to his swearing in as president.

Hours after it was announced that Da Silveira won the presidential election on May 9, 2023,  DeLorenzo played a part in organizing a meeting in which a script was developed on how to remove Da Silveira from his position, citing the pending Title IX allegation. During the swearing-in ceremony an hour after this meeting, DeLorenzo introduced a motion to expel Da Silveira from his seat, which ultimately passed.

While the Office of Ethics does not contend that Da Silveira’s removal was unethical, it argues that “the meeting of Assembly members ahead of time facilitated manipulation of the decision-making process, secured special treatment for representatives privy to the conversations and set a dangerous precedent for future Student Assembly terms.”

DeLorenzo stated that he did not make Da Silveira’s Title IX allegation public prior to May 9, 2023, because it could infringe on his pending case, and that it would only be appropriate to make it public if Da Silveira won the election.

In his second violation of the Code of Ethics, with clear and convincing evidence, DeLorenzo was found to have used his position as chair of the Appropriations Committee to act in a manner that led to an uncomfortable working environment for committee members and various student organizations that receive their funding from the committee.

Testimony and evidence from members and groups involved, including the Gender Justice Advocacy Coalition, indicate that members “felt uncomfortable during Appropriations Committee meetings, due at least in part to DeLorenzo’s alleged belittling comments toward female presenters and occasionally aggressive demeanor.” In November, DeLorenzo recommended a decrease in funding for GJAC due to a lack of clear financial records, though the ethics report did not find evidence of bias in DeLorenzo’s allocation of funds.

“The V.P. Finance role is extremely challenging,” DeLorenzo stated in response to allegations about his hostile demeanor. “You need to be very tough and judicious whenever you are dealing with money, especially when it’s complex and it’s not your money. I can confirm that all the organizations were treated fairly throughout this entire process.”

DeLorenzo added: “To anyone who experienced — if you are on the Appropriations Committee — some emotional affliction resulting from those meetings and those dealings, I am deeply sorry and I apologize for this and any grievances this might have caused.”

Findings for Vice President of Internal Operations Clyde Lederman ’26

Like DeLorenzo, Lederman was found to have coordinated with Da Silveira during the Spring 2023 election in an effort to protect Greek life and block certain candidates or influences on the Student Assembly, a move that was not deemed an ethical violation. 

Lederman was told by Da Silveira on March 19, 2023, that DeLorenzo would be interested in supporting candidates who pledge to scrub mentions of the IFC and Greek life from all platforms and speeches. “Nothing with Greek life will ever emerge,” Da Silveira wrote in a text message.

Just three days earlier, Da Silveira told Lederman that they could put forth a “compromise consensus slate” that has a mix of Cornell Democrats-endorsed candidates, Da Silveira’s allies and candidates beholden to the IFC. 

Lederman — then an executive board member of the Cornell Democrats — wrote that there was “definitely a deal to be had here” as he desired fraternity votes for his Common Council run, which he obtained in November.

Lederman maintains that he did not have plans to shield Greek life from scrutiny.

“I don’t know how I could have protected Greek life,” Lederman told The Sun. “I was not in a position of power to be able to do so. I wasn’t on the Assembly. I wasn’t on [the Common] Council. I wasn’t running for the Assembly.” Lederman was appointed to his vice president position in June 2023 and as an undesignated representative in the fall 2023 semester.

The report also pointed to a Feb. 27, 2023, text conversation between Lederman and Da Silveira in which they “reached a consensus on a primary goal of beating Bhardwaj and [Bahram] Mehretu [’26] in the election,” who were endorsed by the Cornell Progressives.

“It was weird to me to identify this thing that, maybe it shouldn’t be happening, but it has never been raised as an issue before — people planning in advance who is running for what,” Lederman said.

Lederman was found to have violated the Code of Ethics for coordinating with Da Silveira during the Spring 2023 election to lift bans on slating — which would allow candidates to be elected together as a group — to benefit his electoral ambitions.

Lederman, then not a member of the Student Assembly and instead the clerk of the Office of the Assemblies, sent multiple text messages to Da Silveira on March 16, 2023, instructing him to introduce an amendment to change the language of an election rules amendment to allow for slating. 

Hours after the meeting, Lederman was informed about the plan to create a “compromise consensus slate.”

The Office of Ethics deemed this sequence of events to be an ethical violation due to Lederman’s role as the clerk of the Office of the Assemblies, a position that is not typically involved on the floor of the Assembly. 

“The Office of Ethics views Lederman’s instruction of Da Silveira to make comments on the floor of the Assembly at his request in his capacity as a Clerk of the Assemblies as a blurring of the lines between the roles of elected representatives and non-elected staff members,” the report stated. This further affirmed that Lederman used unofficial channels that “influenced certain Assembly-wide policy changes and historical events without full transparency of the Student Assembly and the Cornell community,” an ethical violation.

“Any way I influenced anything was just because I told other people my perspective,” Lederman said. 

Lederman was found to be in the same violation of the Code of Ethics as DeLorenzo for their involvement in coordinating a coalition of Cornell Democrats-endorsed candidates to discuss Da Silveira’s Title IX allegation prior to his swearing in and develop a plan to remove him as president. Da Silveira was ultimately “not found responsible” for sexual assault.

“Could [the meeting] have been done better? Yes. It was also one of those things where we had credible information that [Da Silveira] had done something really bad and we had very limited time to decide what to do,” Lederman told The Sun. 

The Office of Ethics found that during his role as vice president of internal operations on the current Student Assembly, Lederman did not appropriately address concerns from Appropriation Committee members and student organizations about DeLorenzo’s behavior. Lederman was made aware of reports from GJAC and Outdoor Odyssey — which DeLorenzo accused of embezzling funds — about their hostile interactions with DeLorenzo, yet he did not report these complaints through the proper channels.

“At the time there were no rules or procedures, and no one even thought of how to deal with [bias complaints],” Lederman said. “The approach [Kuehl] and I took was we spoke, and then [Kuehl] told [DeLorenzo] that if he didn’t change his stance on GJAC and how we treat the organization, that he would bring it up to the Assembly asking him to resign or remove him.”

Lederman also said he felt DeLorenzo’s alleged sexism in meetings was the most damning transgression in the report.

Findings for President Patrick Kuehl ’24

Like DeLorenzo and Lederman, Kuehl was found to have coordinated with Da Silveira during the Spring 2023 election with the aim to block specific candidates or influences on the Student Assembly, though this is not a violation of ethical guidelines. This finding is based on text messages between Kuehl and Da Silveira on March 16, 2023, in which Da Silveira shared his intentions to bring together candidates associated with the IFC and the Cornell Democrats and described “progressives” as oppositional to this slate.

“I regret every single conservation I’ve had with [Da Silveira],” Kuehl told The Sun. “[The text] wasn’t about all progressives. … I’m a progressive, and it was really about Bhardwaj. That was the only candidate I actually cared about because I felt like she would not have been a good leader on the Student Assembly. That’s eventually why I ran for president.”

In the same transgression as Lederman, Kuehl was likewise found responsible in his capacity as president for not appropriately addressing concerns from Appropriation Committee members and student organizations about DeLorenzo’s behavior. Like Lederman, Kuehl was made aware of the reports from GJAC and Outdoor Odyssey about their interactions with DeLorenzo, yet he did not report these complaints through the proper channels.

“I was in a difficult position. I wish that I had taken more of a strong position. I did have multiple conversations with [DeLorenzo] telling him to change course and he did. … From a leadership perspective, I have to deal with my members,” Kuehl said, addressing why he did not bring concerns to the Office of Ethics. “From a financial perspective, there was no bias in what he was doing.”

In a breach of the Student Assembly Code of Ethics, Kuehl was found to have used his position as president to influence the appointment process for seats in a manner that resulted in the dissolution of the Human Ecology seat in the 2023-2024 term. Kuehl opposed a resolution that would have extended the petition timeline for students to sign up for Human Ecology representative, citing concerns that the elections calendar needed to be shortened. There were no candidates for the position.

Because the seat was empty, it was converted to an undesignated representative seat, giving Kuehl the authority to appoint Lederman to the position, “by virtue of his effective performance as V.P. of internal operations.”

Kuehl said that, at the time, he was in the process of drafting charter amendments to change the appointment process on the Student Assembly from presidential appointment to opening the process to the entire Assembly.

“I think it’s an incredibly inequitable system. I don’t want the responsibility and my implicit biases of appointing people to seats,” Kuehl said. “I feel like I did a pretty good job about keeping it neutral. I did appoint [Lederman], but I also appointed a ton of other people.”

Kuehl was also found to have used his position to interfere with the selection of a director of elections in January. While the outgoing director introduced a candidate to replace him, Kuehl sent an email to all members of the Assembly to encourage more people to run for the position.

Kuehl told The Sun he wanted at least five candidates to run for the position so that the Student Assembly could properly determine who would be the best fit.

Findings of Executive Vice President Claire Ting ’25

The Office of Ethics received concerns over Ting’s decision to disclose information from Student Assembly communications to the Cornell Dispatch, a progressive student publication, with allegations that information was leaked for personal or political purposes. 

As this was outside the purview of the Office of Ethics, the investigation into this matter has been delegated to the Elections Committee. The body anticipates finalizing its report by the end of the week, according to Director Luke Thomas ’27. Ting maintains that she spoke with the publication as a whistleblower and “did not feel empowered to speak up about what I had witnessed until I was approached by the Dispatch.”