Students Petition for Trustees Resignation, Probe By Inspector General
WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A group of Westfield State College students said Wednesday they had about 500 signatures on petitions seeking a new investigation and resignation of three trustees at the scandal-wracked school.
″We are really pleased at the response, because we just started collecting signatures outside the trustees meeting last night,″ said senior Todd Lagimonier of Holyoke. ″We just felt something had to be done.″
The three trustees, Chairwoman Jane Berry, Sophie Chmura and Charles Hapcook, have said they will not quit and Gov. Michael S. Dukakis has said he will not ask them to resign.
The three approved a $10,000 payment to a student who claimed he had been sexually assaulted by former college President Francis J. Pilecki. They were the targets of a no-confidence vote by the faculty union last month.
The trustees initially claimed the payment, which made no reference to Pilecki, was for ″academic deficiencies,″ but the lawyers who negotiated the agreement said it was aimed at protecting the state from a civil suit over the sexual allegations.
Pilecki was indicted in June on charges of sexually assaulting two male students in 1984. A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for Friday.
Computer science professor Timothy Bergendahl accused the trustees of having ″insulted the college, the integrity of the college, when they approved the $10,000 settlement without understanding why.″
″We just want the truth, and we want it all over with,″ said Bruce Goodwin, a senior from East Longmeadow. ″We feel it’s been a big coverup, right up the line.″
He said the petition, supporting the faculty union’s request that the trustees resign and asking state Inspector General Joseph R. Barresi to conduct a new investigation, would be sent to Dukakis and legislators.
Ms. Berry said the school already has been investigated by two grand juries, a legislative committee, the Governor’s Council, and former Superior Court Judge Rudolph Pierce, who was hired by the state Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s public colleges and universities.
″The full story on everything has been out for months,″ she said.