Student leaders not above the law

Some of your student leaders have had run-ins with the law — and some of those run-ins have been for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Most recently, Undergraduate Student Senate senator for student advancement Ben Feld was arrested for OVI on Oct. 20. He was arraigned on Thursday.

Student senators, as leaders and representatives of the student body, should be held to a higher standard than the average student. Even though they may not be setting policy while they’re out on the town, these leaders are still seen as representatives of the body they serve: Kent State students.

USS Executive Director Ross Miltner said the senate does not have any extra punishment for senators who are arrested during their term.

“Ben is like any other student at Kent in terms of conduct court,” Miltner said yesterday.

It is the university conduct court’s responsibility to handle the situation, he said. Because the incident occurred off campus, Miltner said, Feld will likely not receive any penalty from the university.

This editorial board thinks senators should be held accountable for their actions at all times. They should face extra punishment.

The students who vote them into office expect them to behave in a way that represents the interests and the morals of the university. How does it reflect on Kent State students if their elected leaders are arrested for driving drunk? Poorly.

USS is the official voice of the students to the administration. The Stater editorial board is also the voice of students and the paper. Board members and top editors realize that we represent the newspaper even when we’re out having fun. We know if we break the law, we will be held accountable — including having our own names and offenses printed in our paper. And we’re not even elected.

That’s not so with student senate.

Driving while drunk is a bad judgment call, no matter who you are. It puts the driver and more importantly innocent people in serious danger.

Should a person who makes such a bad judgment be allowed to continue making policy that affects constituents?

Regardless of what penalty Feld faces in court, USS should have a process for formal retribution in serious offenses committed by in-office members. We consider an OVI a serious offense.

What if that innocent person had been Elizabeth Faulkner, a Kent State freshman killed by a drunk driver earlier this semester? It could have been.

Everybody makes mistakes. But whether Feld is convicted of driving drunk, this should raise a few flags for USS and the student body.

If senators expect to be respected and treated professionally, they should respect the students of Kent State enough to not break the law and to carry themselves in a professional manner. It’s embarrassing to the institution and the students involved.

Yes, USS senators are students. But as campus leaders, especially as elected leaders, they are and should be held to a higher standard.

If convicted, Feld needs to apologize, not to us, but to the students he let down and the people he could have hurt.

The above is the consensus opinion of the editorial board of the Daily Kent Stater.