This editorial board congratulates Student Government Association President Vincent Cavataio on his new internship with Central Michigan University Facilities Management.
We also believe it is appropriate to call for his resignation as president as long as he maintains his employment in the position.
Though the internship is meant to be solely focused on promoting FM’s efforts in sustainable energy, there can be no room for a potential conflict of interest between the students’ best interests and those of the university for the head of our student government.
His pursuit of the position is understandable, as it is closely related to his desired career. It is only paid minimum wage, ruling out any concerns of palm-greasing, and as stated in previous articles, the time commitment will not be demanding enough to detract from his other pursuits.
Cavataio’s position on CMU’s Strategic Planning Team with Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Steve Lawrence simply gave Cavataio a good chance to seek out and attain the opportunity. He cannot be blamed for taking the job, but he can be questioned for retaining his position as SGA president while doing so.
It is important to note Cavataio will not be working for direct CMU public relations, which could very well put him in the middle of a disagreement between the university and students. But because the first role of SGA president is to be the voice of the student body, the ties with CMU his new job will form may pose an ethical problem. How can one represent the students while, at the same time, work for the university in a public relations position?
Interim Dean of Students Tony Voisin referenced Cavataio’s enrollment in only one seminar class as a reason his schedule is open enough to handle both jobs. While this editorial board has no disagreement that Cavataio could handle the schedule, we question the ethical problems this creates.
The Public Relations Society of America’s code of ethics advises its members to avoid conflicts of interest and act in the best interest of clients or employers. As an elected official by the students he needs to avoid any conflict of interest that could even potentially come with this job.
As long as he is burdened with even the slightest responsibility to serve the university’s interests over any others, including those of the students, he cannot be trusted as their ultimate representative on campus.
To use an old proverb, he cannot have his cake and eat it too.