Untrustworthy Aguiar should resign


Editorial Board

At issue:Mayor candidate and political science professor Gary Aguiar wrote a column condemning his political opponent. But his friend and fellow professor Brady Phelps signed it.

Our view:Aguiar’s poor ethical choices mean he’s unfit to teach. He should resign. Now.

Gary Aguiar is a tenured political science professor. That means he has the trust of this university. And, students should be able to trust him.

But what should students think now?

Brady Phelps, a psychology professor and friend of Aguiar, submitted a guest column to a local newspaper “raising ethical concerns” about Mayor Scott Munsterman when the mayor was locked in a battle for his job with Aguiar earlier this year.

But Phelps didn’t write the column. Aguiar did. An attack on his political opponent during the election. Hidden behind the name of a friend.

That’s not just dirty, underhanded politics. That’s ethically and morally wrong.

Now Phelps is in the midst of a defamation lawsuit for an article he didn’t write. That’s not how you treat a friend.

We don’t deny Aguiar has worked hard to represent the little guy, the local businessman. He’s prided himself on his advocacy. That’s fine. But good intentions don’t justify dirty tactics.

How can Aguiar crusade against unethical actions and closed-door meetings by local officials and then turn around and use his friend to score cheap political points? How can he look at himself in the mirror?

With his actions, Aguiar has hurt his university, his department and the reputation of his colleagues. The faculty here are talented, hard-working people who deserve the right to educate and mentor the future. Aguiar has shown he does not deserve that same right.

As a professor of political science, Aguiar’s classroom holds the next generation of political leadership. His class may very well contain the next Daschle or Rounds.

But with him as a political role-model, what will students end up learning from their college experience? As a political science professor, Aguiar, of all people, must be an example of an upstanding politician. Cleary, he is not.

Aguiar is a tenured professor. The university has entrusted him with young minds. But he has shown himself unworthy of that trust.

If he wants to be a politician, fine. If he wants his public life to be an example of underhanded, dirty politics, fine.

But by his actions, he has lost the right and moral authority to call himself a professor of political science at South Dakota State University.

Aguiar, resign immediately.

Students deserve nothing less.