To the Editor:
Last week’s editorial by Mr. Peoples regarding the actions of Mr. Pergola and his minions addressed an age-old assumption, ‘if I wasn’t convicted, I must be innocent’.
We have all witnessed technicalities being implemented to avoid conviction in our legal system, which in no way render true guilt null. It is clear to me that the District Attorney in this case had no inclination to pursue this matter of theft at USM because the University has in place a disciplinary policy of its own. Although theft is a crime against society in general, this case involves a crime committed within the confines of the USM community, which has established policy (Student Conduct) to render penalties.
The executive branch of our government uses censure to penalize offenders and relieve litigation in the court system by watching ‘over its own’ and this is the intent of the policy here at USM. We at USM should watch over ourselves, monitor unacceptable behavior and dole out punishment when deemed relevant. The comments made by Mr. Pergola in the Portland Press Herald after leaving court were immature and irresponsible, counter to responsible action and thinking we come to this University to attain. Most people with reasonable thinking would conclude a person caught loading a vehicle with salable goods, not paid for, to be caught ‘red-handed’ and guilty of theft.
Pergola has, without acknowledging it, reinforced the negative connotations attributed to fraternities.
There was an instance earlier here at USM where individuals gathered all the available issues of the Casco Bay Weekly in order to suppress the expression of free speech; this practice is, obviously, still being utilized. Why not? Past practice with no retribution has deemed this acceptable behavior.
This matter now rests with Pergola’s fraternity, the Office of Community Standards, and the Student Senate, of which Pergola is a member, to hand down a true finding. And
as Mr. Peoples explained, it is ‘scary’ that these individuals believe they did nothing wrong. Is this the lesson we wish to teach our children?