Phillip Calderon’s time spent in Binghamton University’s undergraduate student government was an achievement in deception. For more than two years, Calderon lived and thrived under the guise of two basic lies. But we now know that he is 37 years old. And he was never a student.
We want to avoid dwelling on the basic criminality of Calderon’s actions ‘ he was arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor for lying about his age on business documents. For now, we want to focus on what Calderon did here, the impact he had during his time in dubious power and the consequences of his instantaneous fall from grace.
Calderon was one of the most visible and vocal members of our campus community. He was at every meeting. He was a very active member of the Student Assembly. And his positions on committees and E-Boards had tangible and intangible ramifications.
On the Financial Council, he had a say in every single student group’s operating budget. On the Board of Directors of Off Campus College Transport, he could have influenced policy for the bus company during a time of crisis. As a member of the staffs of both the SA’s Executive Vice President and Vice President for Finance, he constantly had the ear of other campus power brokers.
But his relationship with Rainbow Pride Union troubles us the most.
RPU’s purpose is to provide support for LGBT students, many of whom come out in college and look for support and leadership. Calderon, as director of RPU last year, was in all likelihood looked up to. He lied to those who relied on him. The locks to the RPU office have been changed. They’ve held emergency meetings and must completely rework the sponsorship contracts for the hugely important 2011 Northeast Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Conference that will take place this April. Calderon is largely responsible for bringing the convention to BU ‘ his name is on all the paperwork.
Calderon duped all of us. He somehow had a B-number, a BMail address and a BU ID. He likely took advantages of changes and loopholes in the school’s Internet accessibility ‘ while brazenly campaigning for office without any background checks on his eligibility from the administration or otherwise.
Pipe Dream even endorsed Calderon for VPF last year, and we noted his experience. But later, in another editorial, we noted that Calderon was wearing too many hats, and may have had conflicts of interest.
But we don’t feel that it’s our job to have to check whether a candidate in a campus-wide election is in fact a student. Or why he has the time to be so involved.
It’s going to be a while before the full facts are out on the table, but this should be enough of a wake-up call. The University and the Student Association have already said they’re working on measures to make sure something like this can’t happen again, but we’re not convinced it’s possible to ever prevent this completely.
We, like many, had our suspicions long before this story broke. We just never had the imagination to consider the possibilities. The lesson here, we think, is that even the things that should be obvious are still worth a second look.