USG upholds AASO’s three-year campground ban after liquor bottles, marijuana roaches were found

Patrick Koster, News Editor

The African American Students Organization (AASO) filed a grievance against their three-year ban from Whispering Pines campground on Thurs., Sept. 25.

In AASO v. United Students Government, the verdict resulted in AASO remaining banned from the campground for three years and a five percent budget cut implemented to the organization.

The verdict said that AASO asked to be sanctioned from their ban, stating they could not be responsible for the “actions of young adults” who attended camp weekend from March 13 to 15, 2015. It said that on March 19, a maintenance worker at Whispering Pines found “liquor bottles on the upper deck of the new lodge and marijuana roaches on the back deck” where AASO stayed.

AASO claimed that all 13 executive board members cleaned up the entire site and were unaware that alcohol and drugs were brought to the site.

“Evidence of liquor bottles and marijuana proved this claim to have been invalid,” the verdict said. “The unawareness of the alcohol and drugs still are that responsibility of the President and the organization themselves.”

AASO listed 39 students and one bus on the travel policy, although 60 students and two buses arrived at the camp. AASO was granted purchase orders for two buses from USG, but there was no evidence presented to the council that the orders were granted or made.

According to USG Executive Vice President and Defendant Emily Leminger, AASO was trying to lift the ban immediately or within a year’s time.

”Well, everybody has to push for their organization,” Leminger said. “You know, [if] AASO feels strongly about something, they should fight for it. And, they are a good organization and they bring out a big crowd, so I can understand where they were coming from. Unfortunately, certain things were done that shouldn’t have been done, and that’s when it comes to the point where we kind of have to step in, but I wouldn’t say that they were wrong in seeking to try and change something that they felt should be changed.”

The organization was also accused of waking up Camp Manager Paul Knapic after the camp gate closed for the night. AASO said they had no control over members waking up Knapic because they “had no control over who decided to drive up.”

However, AASO members were supposed to be responsible for knowing who was in attendance and having all vehicles registered with the campsite. AASO failed to do both of these things.

Knapic listed all of the violations and asked for AASO to be banned for three years. The AASO president of the spring 2015 term signed the Whispering Pines Camp Policy, attesting he had read and understood all of the policies and procedures of Whispering Pines, agreeing to abide by all the rules.

“We as a council are here to maintain some type of order and make sure that all organizations are held to the same amount of accountability to these rules while under the umbrella of USG,” the verdict said. “After deliberations, we have agreed that AASO is responsible for the violations stated below and we cannot accept a ‘controlling’ factor as a legitimate excuse for violating the camp policies.

The council took into consideration the good works and achievements that AASO have accomplished, however, as per previous cases, we cannot stretch leniency with such violations. Evidence was provided by the plaintiff, and was determined to be accurate.”

USG’s Judicial Council also suggested that all AASO executive board members contact former board members to receive proper training.

AASO could not be reached for comment, nor could USG Chief Justice Yaniris Ramos.

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