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Associated Student Organization left without a president after issues concerning violations and ineligibility

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The Associated Student Organization (ASO) met to discuss a potential nullification of all votes for ASO president at their meeting today, Thursday, May 17.

All three of the candidates who ran for ASO president for the 2018 to 2019 school year made violations during their campaigns, and two were found to be ineligible for president, Vanessa Esguerra, business senator and member of the ASO Elections Committee, said.

The general elections after which these violations were found out took place Monday, May 7, to Wednesday, May 9.

According to the ASO constitution, all students running for ASO president must be members of ASO for at least one semester before being appointed. Two of the candidates did not meet this criteria.

It was brought to the attention of the ASO Elections Committee through a grievance filed after the general election had already taken place.

The decision to try to nullify the votes was made by the committee on Friday, May 11. They had not yet finished counting the votes when they made this decision, Tiffany Ushijima, 2017 to 2018 ASO president, said.

Upon hearing about the ineligibility of two of the candidates, the ASO Elections Committee made the decision to hold a special election the week after the general election. The special elections were planned to take place on Tuesday, May 15 and Wednesday, May 16.

The special elections, however, did not take place, as it was not within the constitution to hold a special election without a vacancy, amongst other requirements.

“As says under Bylaw 703, Section 5, the Elections Committee shall make all required paperwork available to candidates at least five weeks prior to the first day of elections,” Bryant Odega, director of academic affairs and Elections Committee member, said. “Elections Committee shall also allow one week of campaigning prior to the first day of polling. As soon as these standards were not met, it was not possible for the committee to hold another general election. We were planning to do so this week.”

If the presidential votes are nullified, the special elections for appointing the role of ASO president will take place during the fall 2018 semester.

“They didn’t get elected. The votes that students made were made, as was previously stated, under false pretenses,” judicial court justice Keyaira Branch said. “We need to look at the constitution. We need to look at what’s right based on the constitution and not based on our own personal feelings and our own personal emotions, which is why I think the election should be pushed back to fall, because a lot of us won’t be here and won’t have the influence that we’ve been having on the election.”

ASO, however, will not be left without a president. A vice president was elected during the general elections, Jennifer Gutierrez, former commissioner of finance, and her role requires her to step in as acting president until a new president is elected.

“Under Article 9 Section 1 of the ASO constitution, if following the general elections held in the spring of each year, the office of ASO president is not yet filled, a special election will be called to find this officer. During this period of absence, the ASO vice president shall serve as the acting president,” Odega said. “If a qualified candidate is not found within 45 days after the first day of the fall semester, then the acting VP shall assume the role of ASO president.”

Vice president Gutierrez, however, voiced concerns about fulfilling the role of president.

“I personally don’t even want to be president. I don’t want that responsibility,” Gutierrez said. “That’s not what I personally signed up for.”

Gutierrez had been one of multiple members of ASO to submit a grievance regarding the election.

“I just wanted to say that I filed my grievance not out of malice and I’m sorry if anyone feels like it was or if it was a personal attack against anyone. I did it because I thought that’s what was constitutional,” Gutierrez said. “I honestly wish I found it before anyone even ran because and I wish it turned out fairly like that and that’s just not the way it did.”

Another topic of discussion was whether the ASO Elections Committee had the constitutional power to nullify the votes at all.

“ASO Bylaw 102, Section 1 to 2, according to Bylaws 700 to 799, the Elections Committee has the right to set election procedures and guidelines since the situation is not present in the current bylaws,” Esguerra said.

Some ASO members, such as Chinua Taylor-Pearce, division council member for behavioral and social sciences, voiced concern for members allowing their emotions to rule their decision-making in the elections process.

“If I was running and I found out that the person that was running against me wasn’t qualified, for sure I would have put in a grievance. People are going to say that’s malicious or whatever. That’s not right,” Taylor-Pearce said. “If your goal is to have the position to be filled with the person that is best for ASO and you know that someone isn’t qualified that’s running with you, it’s your responsibility to make sure that that person doesn’t win it because then you’re just putting ASO down.”

The discussion will return to the agenda at the next ASO meeting on Thursday, May 31, from 1 to 2 p.m. in Communications Building Room 109.

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About the Writer
Emma DiMaggio, Senior Staff Writer

Emma DiMaggio is a senior staff writer for The Union, previously arts and news editor. This is her third semester on the newspaper. Her interest is piqued...

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Associated Student Organization left without a president after issues concerning violations and ineligibility