As a new semester begins and students are buying textbooks, the Student Association is still unable to welcome them back to school with the Colonial Trader Web site, a campaign promise from President Audai Shakour. The online trading Web site is now more than four months delayed and may never see the light of day.
Despite the Web site’s continued unavailability, members of the SA Senate and the executive branch said they are happy to now be moving on past the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault Shakour was cleared of in December.
Though most senators are also ready to move on – as evident by a bipartisan bill to review the University judicial process sponsored by Shakour’s one-time political foe senior Ben Traverse – other senators are still questioning where the $11,000 Web site is.
“If I were in Audai’s position, I would demand back all of the now-wasted $11,000 plus of student money that was spent on this failed endeavor,” said SA Executive Vice President Morgan Corr, a junior.
Shakour and members of the executive are not yet ready to give up on the site or it’s developers, SwapSwop.com.
“We have spoken (to SwapSwop) a few times over break through e-mail,” said sophomore Casey Pond, the SA executive’s vice president of public affairs. “We are still hoping to finish the site and launch it.”
On Dec. 2, SA officials said they were considering pulling out of the SwapSwop.com contract, which was signed in June 2005. The Web site developers were unavailable for comment for this story, but in the past they have said the delay was caused by the SA being late in delivering its first payment.
SwapSwop.com Chief Financial Officer David Cole informed the SA Dec. 17 that the Web site was “up and available for student use.” Cole said his group was ready for the SA to launch the site and begin to hear student feedback.
But Pond said the SA executive and some Senate staffers were not satisfied with the product delivered in December, and they are still reviewing the SwapSwop.com product to ensure the development company fulfilled all aspects of the contract.
Pond would not say when the decision would be made to launch the site or terminate the contract.
“Hopefully, the Web site will be salvaged,” said Sen. Chris Rotella (CCAS-U), a sophomore, who still has his doubts about SwapSwop. “However, I think if we could get out of the contract, it would be great.”
Despite efforts to work on the Colonial Trader project in November and December, Shakour’s administration was plagued by the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault he was facing from a female colleague. Shakour remained steadfast against the allegations, categorically denying their validity. On Dec. 19, Shakour announced the University had cleared him of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations (see STORY, p.1).
While Shakour said the hearing was not a distraction, some senators insisted that it was.
“I don’t think anybody can make the case that the trial didn’t focus the SA’s attention away from the work that we were supposed to be doing,” sophomore Sen. Elliot Gillerman (ESIA-U) said.
With the beginning of a new semester and the SJS ruling in the books, some SA senators are now looking to put that saga behind them.
“It is time for the SA to move on and salvage what is left of the school year,” said Sen. Nick D’Addario (CCAS-U), a sophomore. “We should be focusing on issues that will actually help students, rather than bickering with each other.”
The move towards bipartisan cooperation is evident by the legislative alliance between Shakour and Traverse (CCAS-U), who ran one another for the SA presidency in 2005. As a senator last semester, Traverse, a senior, was an outspoken critic of Shakour’s, calling for his resignation and impeachment while the SA president was facing sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations.
Shakour and Traverse plan to announce a resolution “to call on the University to create an ad-hoc committee to review the student judicial system and make recommendations on how to create a more fair system for students.”
“I have been focusing on students’ rights for awhile, and I saw a lot of the demons through Audai’s case,” Traverse said.
The legislation will address numerous aspects SJS including the use of facebook.com to investigate students, the University’s right to inspect e-mail, the University’s jurisdiction beyond campus boundaries and the perceived lack of evidence needed by the University Police Department for a referral to SJS.