Staff editorial: Pilchen lacks judgment

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September 2, 2008

11:20 AM

p. Leadership requires the ability to make difficult decisions. It requires trust and ethical conduct. In using a Student Assembly fund for personal purchases, SA Vice President Zach Pilchen ’09 demonstrated none of these. Beginning in April, Pilchen drew from the SA’s off-campus account to buy sandwiches, movie tickets, cigarettes and other items totaling nearly $140. When confronted about his transgressions, Pilchen failed to apologize. Instead, he said in a statement that his purchases were trivial in nature and that he’d always intended to return the money.

p. Pilchen’s actions cast doubt not just upon himself, but the entire SA. Why, for instance, was he allowed to retain a debit card tied to an account holding in excess of $23,000 even after his term had ended? Where was the oversight as his spending spree continued into May? Even as the improper custodian of the account, Pilchen should have realized that personal purchases — if not explicitly forbidden by SA law — were ethically out of bounds. That he failed to notify anyone of the mounting expenditures calls into question the innocence of his intentions. The affair displays a sheer disregard for the standards of ethical conduct and raises serious concerns about his integrity.

p. Both flippant and immature in his response, Pilchen dismissed his actions as “silly,” a word wholly incapable of capturing the gravity of his offense. Loaning oneself nearly $140 from an organization’s private account to pay for personal items is outrageous — at the very least.

p. But Pilchen has ignored all of this. He seems to be awaiting the student body’s response before publicly admitting any wrongdoing. That strikes us as calculating and duplicitous, neither of which are qualities we’d like to see in the vice president of the school’s governing body.

p. Moreover, Pilchen’s position in the SA necessitates interaction with officials both at the College and in the community. If those officials find any reason to distrust him, it would destroy his ability to act as a student ambassador and would effectively render him useless in that capacity. This misdeed could give them just such a reason.

p. In using SA funds to buy personal items, Zach Pilchen abused his power. In our view, he has compromised his credibility and integrity as a campus leader. At a minimum, that requires an apology. At most, it requires sincere reflection on the value of his continued service to our school.

p. Editorial Board
Austin Wright, Editor-in-Chief
Jeff Dooley, Managing Editor
Alice Hahn, Executive Editor
Brian Mahoney, Online Editor
Andy Peters, Editorial Writer

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