Dan Beckelman, former Student Government Association (SGA) senator at-Large, resigned last week after he was discovered to be the creator of a Weblog that had been offending SGA members with criticisms of not only their actions within SGA but also their personalities and abilities. He was not present at last Wednesday’s SGA meeting, but Annelise Catanzaro, SGA executive president, announced his resignation there.
Beckelman said later in an e-mail interview that he had “stepped aside because it was clear people knew (he) was responsible and that they were agitated.”
The reasons for his resignation were not given during the meeting, but copies of his resignation letter were made available afterward. In the letter, Beckelman wrote that he was resigning because “there are certain issues that I myself need to examine, particularly in dealing with those whom I disagree with.”
The letter also cited a “desire to explore a more diverse realm of activities” as a reason for resigning.
Only a few days after his resignation, Beckelman admitted in an e-mail that his involvement in the Weblog (sgansider.blogspot.com) was the actual reason for his resignation. He said that at the time of writing his resignation letter, he had not been ready to take full responsibility for his involvement.
Beckelman had been using the username “SGA Insider” to post messages almost daily over the past few weeks. He said he started the site because he was “disgruntled and wanted to expose some of what (he) thought wasn’t going right in SGA.” He said he also thought it would be funny to have an SGA gossip column. “I didn’t mean to get as angry or carried away as I may have seemed,” he said.
Kevin Kelly, vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs, said he felt he was being libeled and personally attacked by Beckelman in the Weblog.
In an entry on the blog titled “Lack of Communication and Misplacement of Priorities Gets You a Slice of Impeach Pie,” Beckelman accused Kelly of acting “like an almighty King looking down at his people,” and demanded Kelly’s impeachment.
In “Ravi: The Giant Sucking Sound Getting Senators Out of SGA and maybe it’s a good thing,” Beckelman said that “Senator Ravi Kaneriya’s long speeches and endless fights for lost causes . will likely soon cause weak-hearted SGA members to be sucked out of the organization out of sheer frustration.”
In “SGA’s Halloween Party” Beckelman said that Kelly would be George W. Bush because they both are occasionally at a loss for words and both hate dissention. Kaneriya would come as a broken record because he is “never afraid of repeating an old song on an SGA issue,” Beckelman said.
Kelly said in an interview that he had “investigated legal recourse because of the libelous nature of comments in the blog.”
Part of his motivation in resigning, Beckelman said, was that he “did not think it was good for any legal entanglements to go forward.”
Beckelman was very apologetic about the blog in both his resignation letter and in his e-mail interview with The Signal, in which he admitted his guilt. In his letter he said, “I want to offer an apology to some of those who I unjustly disrespected in this organization.”
In the e-mail, Beckelman apologized to people he had offended in the blog and said he “certainly didn’t mean that much personal harm to people.” He also said that he hopes “people find it in their heart to forgive me.”
Following the announcement of Beckelman’s resignation, Catanzaro urged SGA members, “if you have a problem, an internal problem with SGA, just e-mail me.”