In a show of blatant disregard for proper procedure, Student Association President Phil Meisner and Cat Sadler, co-chair of the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students, planned to have a fireworks display. They wanted to set off the fireworks before the showing of Austin Powers on the Quad last Sunday – without receiving approval from Mike Gargano, assistant vice president of the Student Activities Center and without consulting the Program Board, the sponsor of Movie on the Quad.
Sadler contacted Zambelli Fireworks Internationale and ordered the $6,000 fireworks show, but had to cancel the plans when Gargano rejected the event, citing several reasons. The problem was the fireworks were already en route to GW and Zambelli charges an $800 fee for cancellations. To compound the problem, Sadler told George Zambelli, the president of Zambelli Fireworks, that the fireworks show would be rescheduled for early October. Again Sadler flouted procedure by neglecting to go through the proper channels in setting the October timetable.
Meisner has tried to make Gargano look like the bad guy, stating that his concerns weren’t valid. This is clearly not the case.
Gargano, after consulting numerous members of the administration, cited construction, potential for upsetting Foggy Bottom residents and a possible fire hazard as reasons for his refusal.
Beside the fact that Meisner and Sadler bypassed Gargano, Welcome Week was supposed to be organized by PB. But PB Executive Vice Chair Seth Weinert said he was made aware of the plans only after the decision had been made to go ahead with the fireworks display. SA Executive Vice President Caity Leu, who said she had no part in planning the event, thought the fireworks event would have been a waste of money.
Even if the fireworks show had been approved by Gargano and the PB, questions of propriety would still be valid. Doesn’t the SA have something better to do with $6,000? Perhaps the money should go to student groups, many of which are operating on budgets of less than $100. Or instead of investing in poorly planned SA events, the money could go toward co-sponsorship of individual student group events.
Whether Meisner and Sadler intentionally deceived the GW community, or whether the two simply forgot to follow procedure, this debacle sets a deplorable precedent. If the SA president does not follow protocol, who will?