Reading Time: 3 minutes
photo by Mico Mazza

101 Week guide encourages

underage drinking

Jack Witwer, former vp social (anglo) for the Political, International, and Development Studies Student Association (PIDSSA) and 101 Week guide, was caught asking minors for fake IDs in order to let them drink during 101 Week. Other executive members have submitted complaints to PIDSSA and the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) as a result of his actions.

“It was brought to my attention on the Sunday [Sep. 4] by a member of the executive that she and other guides overheard [Witwer] seeking false identification,” stated PIDSSA President Amanda Iarusso,

The fake IDs were allegedly requested not only in front of other 101 Week guides who were selling kits, but also students’ parents.

“We did not receive any official complaints from any parents, nor was I advised that the SFUO did. I know, however, that parents were present when he sought false identification,” said Iarusso.

Witwer admitted to his breach of Bylaw 13 of the SFUO’s constitution, which deals with seeking and accepting  fake IDs, but claimed he wasn’t the only person breaking the rules.

“It’s not something new … I’m just the one that got caught,” said Witwer. “Basically, it’s something that we all do—something that I actually had asked a couple of other exec members about—and they said it’s something that we’ve done in the past.”

Although Witwer maintains that other executives asked minors for fake IDs, neither the SFUO nor PIDSSA have received complaints about other executive members who were selling 101 Week kits.

“Of course he would say that,” said Iarusso. “I haven’t heard that other people [were] seeking false IDs.”

On Sep. 6, Witwer was asked to turn in his 101 Week guide bracelet and was banned from attending the opening ceremonies.

“They told me they were going to cut [my bracelet] and I pulled it off myself and handed it to them,” said Witwer.

Witwer has also resigned from the position of vp social at PIDSSA without being asked to do so by other members of the executive.

“I called an emergency meeting for my executive this Sunday [Sep. 11]—at which point I was going to be asking for his resignation—but he voluntarily gave that on Tuesday,” said Iarusso.

Amalia Savva, the president of the SFUO, said it’s unlikely Witwer will  face further punishment for his actions.

“The [101 Week] council will not be meeting in regards to this due to the fact that the council has to call a meeting 24 hours after the incident during 101 Week and it was not called,” said Savva. “[Therefore], we cannot see any consequences against Jack Witwer.”

Despite Witwer’s decision to remove himself from student politics, Iarusso is worried about PIDSSA’s reputation after the scandal.

“It’s definitely taken a [toll] on us, and I understand that we lost the confidence of a lot of organizations on campus. We’re going to take steps to rebuild our image not only with other [federated] bodies, but with our students, with the larger school community,” said Iarusso.

However, Savva is not concerned that the incident will affect U of O’s reputation outside the community.

“I don’t think it will have a very big impact on the university,” said Savva. “We have to make sure that for next year, and the year after that, that people are not repeating the same mistakes.”

As for the vacant vp social position, the PIDSSA president is unsure whether she should hire anyone else, as the faculty has a francophone vp social and the event planning is done for the year.

“I’ll be seeking the advice of the executive on whether to hold a byelection or not,” said Iarusso, who is currently focused on rebuilding PIDSSA’s image.

“We don’t support anything that he’s done, nor have we ever endorsed it, nor has he ever gotten permission to do anything of the sort,” stressed Iarusso. “I’m going to personally see that we make amends with the necessary people and rebuild the image that PIDSSA once had.”

—Jane Lytvynenko