Minutes before the Tripod went to print on Monday night, the staff received word that the SGA President has passed the faciliation of the Churchill conversation onto another member of the SGA. Before this happened, the Tripod authored the following piece, which was preemptively brought to some members of the community, which we still believe holds merit in this campus discussion.
We, the editorial board, of The Trinity Tripod take serious issue with the Student Government Association’s handling of the Churchill Club’s appeal for recognition. Specifically, we find the SGA President’s role in leading the negotiations with the club and concerned student activists to be unethical. Kristina Miele ’19 is both the roommate and close friend of Evelyn O’Byrne ’19, President of the Churchill Club. Additionally, they are both founding members of the Stella Society. While Miele has publicly stressed neutrality and reminded SGA members of their duty to represent all students, it is clear that this flagrant conflict of interest makes her unable to do so herself. Therefore we demand that Kristina Miele recuse herself from all dealings with the Churchill Club as SGA President. In the name of fairness and ethics, all further proceedings should be led by an impartial member of the executive board in consultation with the senate.
While Kristina Miele is not a member of the Churchill Club, or its related organization the Churchill Institute, it is unreasonable to assume that she is impartial because of her close ties with Evelyn O’Byrne. The President of the Churchill Club has a level of access and influence to the SGA President which other students do not enjoy. Even if the SGA President is striving to remain impartial it is unrealistic to assume she would treat her friend’s organization with anything except preference.
From the outset, the SGA President should have made known her relationship with the Churchill Club’s president and delegated communication with the club to another executive board member, in the interest of both transparency and fairness. It is probably no accident that O’Byrne has been absent from all SGA meetings with the Churchill Club. A freshman, Nick Engstrom, has led all discussions with the SGA, while the club’s supposed president has been missing in action. This indicates that Miele and O’Byrne are most likely aware of the conflict of interest and are colluding to preserve the optics of both groups, and the process of recognition.
Members of the Churchill Club, including O’Byrne, have additionally avoided on the record, in-person conversations with the Tripod. Instead, the club has only released statements, avoiding journalistic scrutiny and only pushing their own spin. The absence of the club’s president from the public is troubling. Many of us on the editorial board hold leadership positions on campus besides the Tripod, and we recognize that in times of controversy we are obligated to stand up and represent our clubs as leaders.
The process of approval for the Churchill Club has been mired in conflict from the beginning. Allowing Miele to continue as the arbiter between these two groups only puts a presumably fair and balanced process at risk. Our school needs to ensure that this decision is done correctly and unimpeded. In light of the SGA President’s close ties to the Churchill Club’s leadership, all previous decisions must be brought under scrutiny and there must be an immediate change in how the SGA is coordinating with the Churchill Club. We call on the SGA President to do what is ethical and remove herself from further negotiations with the Churchill Club.
The Editorial Board, with two abstentions