The problem with Student Government Association and anonymous sources

Most of the time, you shouldn’t trust everything you read on the Internet, or in your email. If you do, I’ll forward you all the emails I got from a prince in Nigeria who wants to send us MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!

So, understandably, when I was approached via email by an unnamed source, whom I’ve nicknamed Bluebell, I was skeptical. Actually, I was 99% sure I was being punk’d, and ain’t nobody got time for that. In aggravated response, I asked Bluebell to put up or shut up, and, boy, did they ever.

The main accusation is that SGA President Clay Stubblefield was allegedly intoxicated at the Fray S.O.L.O. concert last semester and, because of his position -again, allegedly -the infraction was covered up, and swept under the rug. 

Kimmy Manning confirmed that Stubblefield appeared to be drunk and smelled of alcohol that night.

“He reeked,” said Manning. “He kept asking me the same questions over and over because he didn’t remember asking them ten seconds beforehand.” 

Current SGA Secretary and SGA Vice President-Elect Daniel Tribble supported his peer to a point.

“I wouldn’t say Clay was drunk,” Tribble said. “But, he certainly wasn’t sober.”

Clay agreed to speak with me and firmly denied all accusations.

“There is no veracity to any of these allegations, which are nothing but malicious gossip,”he said.

He adamantly stated his belief that the allegations are character assassination, meant to influence voters into turning against Phi Delta Theta in our recent SGA election.

The evidence points in several different directions.

Some of Bluebell’s allegations have turned out to be unfounded or difficult to prove in order to be printable in this publication.  There are eyewitnesses that say Stubblefield was drunk, others that say he was not.

The problem that I’ve faced in this whole sordid mess is the question of which is more valuable: truth or relationship? By writing this article, I’m sure that a number of people feel threatened, disappointed, possibly vindicated.

As a journalist and a Senator, I feel morally blackmailed by both sides, the accuser and the accused. Is it not my duty as a journalist, as a historian -hell, even as a Christian -to speak truth to power? But, by the same token, is truth worth the alienation and dread that comes with tearing down deception?

Truth is a nebulous commodity, and as Roland Barthes tells us, “Multiple perspectives cannot ever coalesce.”(Yes, that was a Hamlet 2 reference, in case you were wondering.) There is a likely probability that someone is lying to save his or her own skin. Whether that’s Bluebell, Stubblefield, or the people accused of protecting him, I don’t know. And really, it doesn’t matter.

Wait, what? Yeah. I said it. You can’t prove that Stubblefield was drunk, because I’ve tried. But you can’t prove that Bluebell isn’t telling the truth, because I’ve tried that, too. What does matter, though, is that this whole scandal has revealed tendencies toward backbiting and blackballing on both sides of the situation.

As people who were elected or hired to serve the needs and desires of students, all parties involved -including myself -should realize that they owe the University both truth and good relations. As servants of something greater than ourselves, it is our duty and imperative to be as honest, as hard-working, and as honorable as possible. It is such a privilege to serve that we owe the best of our abilities and integrity in return.

Ultimately, I didn’t write this piece to reprimand Mr. Stubblefield or the people who may or may not have shielded him. And likewise, I didn’t write this piece to further Bluebell’s aims.

Rather, this piece is for the next cycle of Student Government representatives and our new Executive Council. I hope you realize that leading the student body does not mean that you are above your constituents and the regulations put upon them. Like Bill Clinton and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, you are not exempt from the negative gaze of the public eye.

Public persona and service is a cruel mistress. Her scrutiny is a sword that cuts to the bone of an issue, and her esteem will fail you as a shield behind which to hide. With great power comes great responsibility, and duty leaves no room for arrogance or cowardly self-preservation. 

I wish you all the best in the world. God bless the students, faculty, and administration of Tennessee Tech.