Accountability starts by owning up to your actions


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The Editorial Board

Charged with “serious misconduct,” former University Student Senate Delegate Joel De La Cruz resigned from his position during his impeachment trial last week.

De La Cruz was elected to a position of influence and power. As a USS representative of the Baruch College community, he was responsible for upholding the values of respect and professionalism.

However, he failed to live up to his role when he called his colleague, Borough of Manhattan Community College Sen. Brandee Simmons, a “hateful, spiteful creature.”
He took the insult further by characterizing her as “impermeable to reason or any ability [for] foresight,” and “subservient to [her] base nature.”

It is clear that USS can be controversial. Its resolutions have been the focus of disagreements, as is evident by the approximately 1,800 comments under the USS plenary meeting Facebook livestream on April 11.

However, no number of arguments, hotly debated topics or normalized toxicity can justify the words written by De La Cruz in his messages to Simmons.

Regardless of the circumstances, a student government representative should never refer to another with derogatory terminology.

It is a position that should be performed with empathy. A leader must examine the ramifications of their actions, carefully considering how they can harm or benefit others.

His comments — intentionally typed out in a group chat — display a lack of self-control and mindfulness. As a political figure, he should have been more cautious about the language he used.

De La Cruz should be held accountable for his conduct, and he was. Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government held an impeachment trial on April 20.

It recognized the impact of his rhetoric on the Baruch community. USG chose to take initiative, swiftly and properly acting to address the situation, rather than wait for instruction from USS.

De La Cruz isn’t just a student representative, but he is also an intern for U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez.

As a result, he is still responsible for owning up to his actions. It is important he learns from this experience and is mindful of his influence on others.

Being a leader in student organizations, such as USS, may not seem very consequential and significant in the long run of one’s life. However, it provides a way to practice life-long qualities such as leadership, respect and collaboration that are necessary for professional settings.

Our actions as students lay the groundwork for our actions as adults in the workplace. It is imperative that each person treats others, whether they are fellow students or work colleagues, with respect and care.

Every student, even if they are not pursuing a career in politics or law, will become an active member of society. It is up to us to ensure that our future society is just.

Accountability begins here.