After claims of bias come to the forefront, ASU bylaws should be shifted to create fairer guidelines.
Opinion by Matthew Royer, Political News Editor
Developments with recent ASU appointment proceedings provide the student body with a troubling look at its student government but not all hope should be lost.
On Sept. 28, an ASU meeting had a set goal: appoint students to positions left vacant after last Spring’s election. Students interested were given a set time to plead their cases for the positions of vice president, parliamentarian, officer of political affairs and commissioner of fine arts to the officers and commissioners currently in office. When all was said and done, which was plenty during a meeting with a tense tone throughout, all but two positions were filled. The 3-2 vote in favor of former ASU Vice President Shoshana Cassell over Kimberly Perez Solis stirred up questions of partiality. ASU President Sandra Sanchez expressed disappointment in the decision and stated that her fellow board members did not come into the process with an “open mind” as previously reported by The Valley Star.
Despite the disagreement, all three vice-presidential candidates, including Cassell and Perez Solis, are set to serve on the ASU together in their respective positions as vice president and parliamentarian. The other VP hopeful, Sean Moran, will serve as commissioner of fine arts.
Cooperation between the board will be quintessential in this upcoming term for ASU as the campus comes back to life during the tail-end of a global pandemic. For this reason, those elected or appointed should learn from this experience and work together to better shore up the guidelines for future boards.
For example, the claims of bias came after an observation was made that Cassell had previously served on the ASU with Commissioner of Student Life Ethan Shalom. With Cassell knowing Ethan, one could be led to believe that his brother, Eliran Shalom, who serves as commissioner of health and wellness, may also know the former VP. On the other hand, Perez Solis serves as vice president to Sanchez in Valley’s Women Empowerment club. While Sanchez could not cast a vote in the appointment, an assumption could be made in where her vote would have laid.
These circumstances would not have been possible a few years ago according to ASU Advisor Monica Flores.
“Maybe two years ago - In the ICC constitution and bylaws in the past, if you served on a club as an officer you could not serve on ASU,” said Flores. “Students noticed that there wasn’t as much involvement. To increase involvement, ASU members can serve on clubs.”
Bylaws of the past created strict boundaries for candidates. As a compromise, current ASU officers and commissioners should design regulations to present to the student body in which a new appointment process should be displayed prominently.
To curb the sense of bias that these appointment votes create, there needs to be a veil of secrecy attached to the system. When candidates enter to fill vacant positions, the opportunity to propose their ambitions to the board members should not come through oral presentation, but rather only written documentation presented by the advisor without the candidate’s name attached. If more than one candidate enters consideration, ASU hopefuls would be assigned a random order in which their written documents are shown. Voting members would then vote to appoint based upon the number in the set order that best represents their vision for the position, instead of adhering to the currently flawed system of knowing the candidates in advance and allowing verbal responses.
This process would create a sense of fairness across the board, which would ideologically align with the annual ASU election in which positions are decided upon through direct democracy.
Bylaws are the second of two steps. For the first step, the ASU must put aside any differences and work together to better the campus and the student body which it serves. ASU is an important cog in the machine that is Valley College, but changes need to come.
“It's really up to the board if they want to amend their constitution and bylaws,” said Flores. “Somebody on the current board can say ‘why don't we form a committee and try to amend the ASU constitution and bylaws,’ so that we can add something about this whole topic of being biased and what not. It's up to them. Ultimately, the students on our campus decide.”