Justin Peligri: Firing Colonial Cabinet leaders is a step too far

The writer, a junior majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, students hailing from each grade, major and student organization get drunk in every single residence hall on this campus.

But everyone reading this already knows that. This is college, after all. Drinking – often underage – is a social norm, for better or for worse, even if it’s against the law and University policy.

That’s why it was surprising to observe the internet uproar this week between members of Colonial Cabinet and administrators, when five leaders of GW’s premier freshmen orientation program were fired after the University Police Department busted one of their parties. Some of the students there were underage.

There was alcohol at the party. But oddly enough, every single person in attendance passed a sobriety test, according to interviews with The Hatchet. So why were some dismissed? Well, Cabinet members signed a contract promising they wouldn’t drink while underage.

When most students get caught drinking by UPD, there is, reasonably, a slap on the wrist. But imposing this unjustifiably harsh sanction – firing students from a covetable position – is one step too far.

Keeping the realities of college social scenes in mind, the University holds members of Colonial Cabinet to an unattainably high standard. They are “glorified,” said one former Cabinet member who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Asking students to spend the entire summer dressing in neon clothes and ill-fitting khaki shorts, enthusiastically performing gimmicky skits and propping up University programs – while simultaneously prohibiting them to participate in what is indisputably a cultural mainstay – is too extreme a requirement.

Yes, CI is an essential program. That hot summer weekend is the first opportunity for new students to make friends at GW and acclimate themselves to the campus on which they will spend at least four years. It is critical that students tapped to participate in leading this program are the very best GW has to offer.

But there’s a huge difference between expecting a lot from what are supposedly GW’s top students and propping them up to an unreasonable standard.

The University can’t hang its entire reputation on a select group of students. Administrators should recognize that students – even student leaders – make mistakes. By firing these students without giving them even a probation period, leaders of the program send the message that they are not in touch with the reality that exists at GW and at colleges around the nation.

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