By: Anna Bryson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
& Tim Fanning (email@example.com)
Just seven weeks after he was elected, the vice president-elect of Student Government has resigned.
In a one-sentence email announcing his resignation on April 17, Samuel Goetz offered no reason for his decision.
Earlier this month, he had cited academic reasons in explaining why he took a leave of absence from his job in the student Senate on March 10. He said then that academics might also affect his service as vice president for 2017-2018.
But The Crow’s Nest has learned that there may be another reason for Goetz’s resignation. He was named in an allegation of sexual assault filed by a female student last semester.
The allegation apparently came in a complaint filed under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sexual discrimination, including harassment and violence, in colleges and universities.
The student did not file a criminal complaint with university police or the St. Petersburg Police Department, according to those agencies.
Goetz, a freshman global business major, refused to comment on his resignation and the allegations.
Citing state and federal privacy laws, the university declined to address questions about the sexual assault allegation. The university said that Goetz is still enrolled as a student.
David Thompson, who was elected SG president alongside Goetz on March 2, said he was unaware of the allegations against Goetz.
“I really can’t answer that, and that is something you need to ask Sam himself,” Thompson said.
He also said that he has selected Maria Almonte, a sophomore who is Student Government’s chief financial officer, to replace Goetz. Almonte cannot be confirmed by the Senate until May 8, after Thompson takes office.
Goetz’s abrupt resignation is another embarrassment for Student Government, which has been roiled in recent years by turmoil and low turnout in student elections.
In 2014, then-President Cody Boyer was the target of an unsuccessful impeachment attempt that left SG under a cloud for several weeks.
Two years later, then-President Ziya Kardas and his vice president took leaves of absence that were never explained before they finally resigned six months later. Kardas later acknowledged that allegations of sexual harassment figured in the leaves, but said he was “completely cleared” after a university investigation.
His absence meant Laraine Ruiz, the student Senate president, served as acting SG president for most of the 2016-2017 term.
Last fall, Student Government was also embarrassed by $93,511 error in its budget. As a result, it had to cut the allocations for the Campus Recreation department and the Office of Leadership and Student Organization.
Compared to other colleges and universities, cases of reported sexual violence have been relatively rare at USF St. Petersburg, where administrators, faculty and Student Government have worked to raise awareness of the issue.
Under former President Barack Obama, the federal government urged campus administrators to publicize federal laws on sexual violence and vigilantly police their campuses for possible violations.
Obama and celebrities from sports and entertainment began calling attention to the issue with an “It’s On Us” campaign urging people to “take the pledge and make a personal commitment to keep women and men safe from sexual assault.”
At USFSP, Student Government has been active in that campaign.
As secretary of communications for SG, Thompson helped lead the “It’s On Us” effort last semester.
“With this campaign,” he said then, “we hope to change the conversation from one of defeat to one of empowerment and personal responsibility – that not only can we do something about sexual assault on college campuses but that we should.”
In May 2014, a male student was arrested on sexual battery charges and kicked out of school after he assaulted a female student in her dorm room on campus.
The aggressor, who faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted, later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of felony battery. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, paid $1,334 in court costs and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Through his attorney, he expressed remorse for his victim’s ordeal and said he had learned that “when a female says no, it means no.”
David Hendry, the chief of campus police, said his agency has received only one sexual assault complaint since that case