Senate votes down release of documents

The Student Government Association Senate voted 26-12 Thursday night to defeat Resolution 33-11, which called for University administrators to allow the release of information relating to the resignation of former SGA President Grant Cochran. Twelve other senators abstained from voting on the proposal, which was first introduced two weeks ago by Sen. Brad Tipper.

“Essentially what we’re all voting on right here is a slap in the face to someone and in this situation it would be our former president,” Sen. Austin Barranco said. “It’s a serious situation that was already handled and we don’t need to make it worse by slapping him in the face and letting the whole student body see what actually happened.

“I don’t see why anyone would sit here and encourage the rest of the University to have an in-depth look at what went wrong in our administration,” he added. “There’s no reason to sit here and harp on this mistake and make it public knowledge to everyone else.”

Ethics committee chair Lauren Hardison disagreed.

“We were elected by the
student body and they have a right to know what happened to some degree,” she said. “Right now, they don’t have a clue.”

Tipper defended the resolution, expressing concern for the rights of new students at the University.

“In this situation, student rights of new students at our University were blatantly taken away,” Tipper said. “That, in my mind, is embarrassing for us to be associated with an organization that would go out and do that and then afterwards kind of just sweep it under the rug, say that we’re handling it internally, and say next year we’ll change and next year we’ll be different. We’ve been saying next year is going to be different for a while now and things need to change.”

Barranco responded by saying students wouldn’t benefit from making the information public.

“One of the things that frustrates me the most is that you said you realize that we’re all students and this is a learning process (and that) new incoming students will be benefited by us putting this all over the newspapers and making it complete public knowledge,” he said. “They definitely won’t benefit from this. All they’ll see is that we have a corrupt government system.”

“The point of it is not a slap in the face, the point of it is to let the students know what happened,” Hardison said. “How can you start focusing on the future in the midst of a lie?”

Sen. Casey Rogers said members of the Senate would be affected if the information was released.

“It’s clearly stated that it’s going to directly deal with us,” she said. “It’s going to deal with people in this room…It’s going to deal with senators.”

Before the vote was held, Senate Secretary Chandler Wright reminded her colleagues it was just a resolution, and wouldn’t actually compel anyone to release information even if it passed.

“I think it is also important to remember that this is just a resolution; it’s just a statement made by the Senate,” Wright said. “I mean, (you all) can vote however you want to vote, but it’s not going to do anything even if we do pass this bill because the administration’s going to do whatever they want.”

The resolution was introduced after University administrators blocked a public records request sent to each branch of the SGA asking for “any written testimony provided by members of the Student Government Association Senate or SGA staff detailing irregularities that occurred in the First Year Council selections process,” claiming the information was protected by federal privacy laws.

That selections process was invalidated by SGA Attorney General David Simpson last month as a result of unspecified irregularities. Within two days, both Cochran and Sara Lavender, the SGA Director of First Year Council, resigned from their positions within the student government.

In other business, the SGA Senate also voted to reject a resolution that would have encouraged paid SGA officials to donate their salaries to tornado relief.

Sen. Alex Ash said SGA officials are free to donate their money to the relief effort, but those who need their salaries shouldn’t feel compelled to give them away.

“The SGA created a program for raising money for tornado relief and I feel like if it is the paid member of SGA’s decision to donate their salary, that’s fine,” he said. “But by no means should we make them feel forced because some people might need that money.”

The Senate meeting followed a reception for senators and some University administrators that was provided by Auxiliary Services, a division of University Financial Affairs.

Senate will meet again tonight at 6 p.m. in Ferguson Center Room 301 for a special session to consider the nomination of Randy Bowden to serve as Executive Vice President of the SGA. Bowden currently serves as SGA Director of Engagement, and if confirmed will replace former EVP Stephen Swinson, who assumed the SGA presidency upon Cochran’s resignation.


Roll Call Vote



Alex Ash

Kirkland Back

Austin Barranco

Will Barto

Wesley Bell

Matt Berryman

Megan Bissiri

Abby Grace Brown

Michael DeNapoles

Jeff Elrod

Lauren Foley

Swinton Griffith

Nicole Hood

Rachael Hughes

Jay Humphries

Brennan Johnson

Andy Koonce

Hannah Lonza

Kaki Mayhall

Meghan Moore

Alexis Paine

Will Pylant

Casey Rogers

Caroline Shaw

Jimmy Taylor

Davis Vaughn


Total: 26



Thomas Beaumont

Elliot Bell

John Brinkerhoff

Carly Evans

Lauren Hardison

Fred Horn

Dustin Karn

Sydney Page

Laura Sojka

James Tarbox

Jonathon Thompson

Brad Tipper


Total: 12


Not voting/abstain

Daniel Bruno

Tyler Evans

Ryan Flamerich

Laura Langley

Rebecca Rose Lutonsky

Caroline Sanders

Lexie Tiller

Mary Sellers Shaw

Lindsey Smith

Taylor Smith

Chandler Wright


Total: 11

  • Charles McCullough

    Yes, letting the student body see what actually happened is SUCH a terrible thing.  This also bugs me: “They definitely won’t benefit from this. All they’ll see is that we have a corrupt government system.”  So we’ll benefit from the corrupt government system hiding its corruption?  At least they finally admit they’re crooked.

  • David A. Smith

    With his comments, Austin Barranco sums up every stereotype that is out there about the SGA.  He’ll make a great Alabama state politician some day.

  • Andrew Richardson

    Bravo to the members who had some backbone and voted for this resolution. If Cochran did something he shouldn’t have (which seems probable considering the resignation), the student body has a right to know what it is. I don’t care if it makes him look bad.

    We all know pretty much what happened anyway, right? Cochran (or someone in his administration) rigged the FYC applications in some way. Someone found out, Cochran resigned. Why not just tell us the specifics and restore at least a little faith that the CURRENT SGA leaders maybe have some more integrity.

    • Jeremy McWane

      There has to be more than just rigging the applications. Anyone on campus who is following this situation knows he rigged it. Why would they hide something simple like that? I agree, bite the bullet, reveal the truth, and then we can move on. The SGA should realize we won’t move on until we learn something.

      • Andrew Richardson

        I’m not convinced that rigging an election would be thought of as something simple by the student body, but maybe you’re right. 

        The SGA thinks if they release it, the story will become even bigger. I agree that it probably would, but only for a short time. Whereas the approach they’re taking now is just dragging the story out.

  • Sean

    Man, too bad they didn’t have this sort of reasoning during Watergate. So many political officials could have avoided being slapped in the face and embarrassed by little things like facts about how corrupt they were!

    This is a campaign that we need to take up in earnest. Stop slapping politicians, SGA or otherwise, in the face! Doesn’t matter if it’s fraud, embezzlement, or whatever else. FACE SLAPPING MUST END!

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I do appreciate the list of senators who voted for/against the resolution, though. 

  • Anonymous

    Austin Barranco’s reasoning is pretty insane. Does he not read his comments on this and not feel a little embarrassed?

  • Anonymous

    At least there are a few reasonable people here at the Capstone who recognize that this information should be released. Was there not a recent call for transparency in student government? What a shame it is that the alleged transparency was so short-lived, if it ever existed.

    Regardless of the nature of this scandal, the cover-up is almost certainly more offensive. Many thanks to the twelve yeas, the CW staff, and the students who rightly make their concerns known.

    “All they’ll see is that we have a corrupt government system.”
    That ship has sailed. Whatever damage may have been done by the previous SGA president is negligible compared to the mess that has been invented by people like this. It is baffling that we have administrators at an institution of higher learning who are defending their own actions with equally misguided logic.

  • Anonymous

    James Fowler ran on a platform of transparency. I guess any sense of morality left with him. Sad to see it only took months for SGA to return to corruption. Looks like Barranco & company are the future Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay’s of our country. Shame on the lot of you for trying to slink by in the cover of the night and not answer for the wrong things done. Actions have consequences, and I pity you for thinking you can carry on without taking responsibility.