The student government who cried wolf

Sometimes, the best thing to do is not to say what you believe, but what you know.
Last week, an electrical substation in North Carolina was attacked, cutting off power to a nearby town. Officials are still not pinpointing the exact motive behind the attack, saying their investigation is ongoing. However, many have already drawn connections between a drag show that was occurring at the time of the outage and a far-right activist who protested the show.
In a situation like this, however, it is crucial for those “in charge” to not venture off the beaten path and say things that are unconfirmed. By not prematurely making a declaration on the issue, investigators and community leaders acknowledge their authority in the situation. They know they must be sound in their reasoning before making a statement because they know it would undermine their responsibilities as leaders.
However, the same cannot be said for our own Allegheny Student Government, which has developed a pattern of making dramatic declarative statements that are then walked back with an admission that ASG does not know the full details of a situation.
During the GA on Sept. 13, ASG Vice President Rudra Schultz-Ray, ’23, raised concerns about the way that Aramark Dining was operating on campus, and accused the company of breaching its contract with the college.
However, Schultz-Ray later admitted that he did not know enough about the issue to claim that Aramark was violating their contract.
“I say breach of contract, but I want to be more hesitant about that term,” Schultz-Ray told The Campus after the meeting. “That’s a loaded term and I’m not informed enough really to say anything is. I haven’t looked at the contract and I don’t know what Aramark is doing specifically.”
Without that clarification — which was given after the livestreamed meeting and outside the public eye — ASG’s only public statements on the matter would have been that the company was “essentially violating their contract” and an encouragement for student action if the issue was not addressed — in other words, a blind call to fight in a nonexistent conflict.
The Campus further reported that Director of Sustainability Kelly Boulton saw issues with Aramark as places for improvement, not tension. Had ASG double-checked with the college official they evoked in their argument — the person most knowledgeable about the issue — prior to accusing Aramark, they may have been able to more accurately contextualize their concerns instead of making a pronouncement about a legal issue.
By speaking before completing an investigation or having conversations with all involved parties, ASG is undermining its own ability to effectively speak and act on these issues in the future. It is a classic example of the boy who cried wolf: If ASG were to now conduct a sustainability study on Aramark’s practices, find it lacking, and announce those results, the college community might think twice about such an announcement given that, historically, ASG has not done its homework on sustainability.
More recently, ASG leveled “concerns” against Professor of Communication Arts Michael Keeley, who was proposed as a possible adviser for satirical publication The Krampus. During the club’s second round of voting, the club’s organizer, Aidan McGrory, ’26, said that ASG’s Director of Community Relations, Will Lowthert, ’24, had approached him about potential issues with the adviser.
I followed up with Lowthert, who said that he had heard “concerns” from ASG’s Co-Director of Student Affairs Cam Lesher, ’24. When I spoke with Lesher about the story, he said that students had approached him with concerns about an incident in Keeley’s classroom, but said that ASG was not formally accusing Keeley of any misconduct.
Naturally, I took all this to Keeley. While he was more than happy to speak with me about The Krampus, it became abundantly clear during our conversation that I was the first person to approach him with these concerns in any capacity. This is, quite honestly, bull. ASG made a policy decision but did not do the due diligence of speaking to Keeley and trying to ascertain what the issue was at hand.
As a journalist and as a student with a large amount of authority and responsibility within the Allegheny community, I go to people, ask them their perspective on an issue, and synthesize those perspectives into stories that display all sides of an issue to the fullest possible extent. I try to cover all my bases, and take pride in doing so.
Yet, ASG has repeatedly failed to follow up on their public statements, and that has consequences. This government has shown time and time again that its procedures around handling sensitive conversations are fundamentally flawed, undermining any positive outcomes brought about by starting these conversations.
I want to see ASG succeed in changing conversations on campus, but the righteousness of their cause does not excuse the sloppiness of their efforts. We risk harming our own interests by not being thoughtful and deliberate in our words and actions. That means ASG needs to start thinking twice before speaking. It means potentially staying quiet — or quieter — until they can move forward with purpose. It means waiting for an investigation to be complete to confirm their concerns rather than broadcasting them without foundation. Our declarations of values and concerns are important, but so is gathering and presenting that information in a coherent and well-thought-out manner.