Remorseful, Pilchen resigns

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September 5, 2008

10:09 AM

Zach Pilchen ’09 resigned as Student Assembly vice president on Tuesday, one day after he confessed to using SA funds for personal purchases.

“I’m disappointed in myself,” Pilchen said in a statement delivered at the SA meeting Tuesday night. “Looking back now, this made absolutely no sense.”

Pilchen indicated he would step down earlier that afternoon, telling SA leaders he planned to resign that night.

“He seemed pretty calm with it,” SA Sen. Matt Beato ’09 said. Beato was informed of Pilchen’s decision earlier in the afternoon.

Pilchen made personal purchases from the off-campus SA account between April 28 and May 12. In a Monday interview with The Flat Hat, Pilchen said the card was used for minor purchases, like cigarettes and movie tickets. In total, Pilchen used $138.51 from the account.

The money was paid back Tuesday.

The account, which is managed by SunTrust Bank, is designed to give the SA president funds for making purchases for SA-sponsored activities. The senate oversees all purchases at a monthly presentation by the SA secretary of finance.

Pilchen was no longer supposed to have access to the account, having finished his term as the SA president.

Pilchen’s purchases were discovered after a bank statement for the months of April and May went missing. Upon receiving a copy of the statement from SunTrust, the discrepancies were noticed by Beato, Secretary of Finance Yael Gilboa ’11, SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09 and Sen. Walter McClean ’09. An investigation linked the expenditures to Pilchen, who confessed when confronted.

“From the time we talked to Zach, it was resolved and [he] resigned within 30 hours,” McClean said. “I’m really proud of everyone involved in the investigation.”

Not all of the senators in attendance agreed with Pilchen’s decision to resign.

“I’d just like to say really briefly that I am embarrassed by everyone in this organization, and how everyone in this organization has made something so petty and so minor such a big deal,” said Sen. Steven Nelson ’10, news editor of The Virginia Informer.

Nelson went on to say that The Flat Hat’s coverage was irresponsible. He said the newspaper blew the situation out of proportion.

Following the resignation, Hopkins addressed the senate.

“As most of you can understand, it is borderline unbearable for me to be here,” she said. “Zach is one of my closest friends and colleagues.”

Hopkins denounced Pilchen’s actions as irresponsible, and went on to announce her plans to pick a new vice president. A committee, comprised of Hopkins and McClean, along with representatives from the Undergraduate Council and the graduate schools will help select a candidate within the next 14 academic days. The nominee, chosen by Hopkins, must be approved by at least 75 percent of the senate.
Hopkins has opened the position to any student.

“Faith in the Student Assembly is at an all time low, so I’ve decided to open the application process to the entire student body,” Hopkins said.

Individuals in the vice presidential selection committee and those involved in the investigation into Pilchen’s expenditures are not being considered.

In a later interview, Hopkins said she had no one in mind to fill the position.

A bill calling for the investigation into Pilchen’s use of the account was approved by the senate later in the meeting. Financial statements dating back to Pilchen’s term as president are scheduled to be available within the next three weeks on the SA website.

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