In a room filled with her peers and members of the Florida Gulf Coast University administration, Student Government Senate President Jasmine Villanueva resigned from her position at a meeting Tuesday. Her resignation came amid allegations that she and five other Student Government members smoked marijuana during a student-funded trip.
“I love (student government); I love what you stand for. Please consider this my resignation,” Villanueva said.
In all, six students— Villanueva, Student Body President Peter Ryther, Director of Environmental Initiatives Tyler Offerman and Senators Rebecca Gwyn, Rafael Feliciano and Millie Ruiz — were accused of smoking pot.
Four fellow student government members say they saw the group smoking marijuana during the organization’s annual retreat held on the weekend of June 5. The retreat, known as Flight School, was sponsored by student government and was funded by FGCU activity and services fees, which come from student tuition.
The total cost of the bill was $10,950.
Sen. Rosa Mendoza, one of the students bringing the allegations forward, believes her peers should be removed from their positions as student leaders.
“We can’t let this slide, especially since (Ryther) is the main representative of student government,” Mendoza said.
There are no criminal charges against the accused. Mendoza authored and sponsored documents with other student government members that would begin impeachment proceedings for each of the accused at the next Senate meeting on June 22.
Dean of Students Michele Yovanovich, who is also a sponsor for student government and was present during the retreat, said the university is not investigating the situation at this time.
University officials cannot comment on whether any disciplinary action is being taken against either student because of federal student privacy laws. Furthermore, the university administration has not taken any action to remove or ask for the resignation of either student from the student government, said university spokeswoman Susan Evans.
"The student government and the student senate -- the election of officers, asking them to step down, removing them from office -- that is in their purview," Evans said. "Any discipline matters I wouldn't be able to acknowledge, as far as something that might result in disciplinary action or review."
Students can be disciplined if they are charged with or convicted of a crime committed off campus, according to the student code of conduct. Evans said no arrests had been made on campus by university security, and said she understood that the student government event actually took place off campus.
Villanueva’s resignation came as a surprise, even to her.
“I was standing there looking at the best of the best and I decided that I had to resign,” she said after the meeting.
Villanueva refused to comment on the allegations. She said she did not read the proposed impeachment documents nor was she aware that they would be made public at the meeting.
Don Gwyn, 56, and his wife drove two hours from Brandon, Fla., to support their daughter, Rebecca. He requested the impeachment documents citing the Freedom of Information Act.
“No where does it say the kids were drug tested,” Gwyn said.
He will be seeking legal council.
“I know for a fact that my daughter doesn’t do drugs,” he said.
Mendoza said that it was dark when she and other students found the group of students outside, but she knew that they were smoking marijuana because of the smell.
"I know what cigarettes smell like," she said.
Mendoza believes “the facts are the facts.” She claims she has nothing to gain by pursuing these accusations.
“The people who we caught are my best friends and my peers; are people I consider family. I have nothing to gain, I have everything to lose,” she said.
Daily News staff writer Leslie Williams Hale and correspondent Maryann Batlle contributed to this story.
E-mail Allison Gagliardi at email@example.com.