The Impolitical Actions of Christina Gagnier
Invincibility is only an asset when one forgets that they possess it. Rarely is this the case, however. For the sake of example, allow me to name a name. ASUCI Executive Vice President Christina Gagnier.
Article IV, Section B of the ASUCI Constitution states that the Legislative Council shall enact ‘… legislation necessary and proper for the general welfare of the undergraduate students, according to this constitution.’ On Tuesday, Jan. 27 of this year, the Chair of the Legislative Council, Ms. Gagnier, authored a resolution that would allow ASUCI to endorse Proposition 56. The resolution passed with an 8-6 vote, but failed to garner the two-thirds vote required to make a political endorsement (Article IV, Section G). Nonetheless, Ms. Gagnier was to be found, along with several other representatives, the following day at an ASUCI-sponsored table on Ring Road with ‘Yes on Prop. 56’ literature.
Not only this, but Ms. Gagnier seemed to forget that approval from the Judicial Board was required before proceeding with the public campaign to support Propostion 56 (Article III, Section B). Surely, one might think, she could wait until the Judicial Board met the following day, on Wednesday the 28th. Not surprisingly, the integrity of the ASUCI Legislative Council By-Laws simply was no match for the political whims of Ms. Gagnier. That very evening, after a day of tabling, the resolution was ruled unconstitutional by a unanimous vote from the Judicial Board. I doubt that this came as any surprise to her, and would not hesitate to suggest that this expectation was figured into the decision to prematurely distribute the literature.
In an effort to resolve my concerns, I approached Ms. Gagnier this past week. After politely asking for a few moments of her time, I found myself welcomed into her office. I recounted my questions, much as I have done here, but was without resolution. I do recall a couple of striking statements she made, however. Namely, that she ‘…assumed the resolution would pass.’ And that her actions were appropriate ‘… based on past precedent.’ I remember being confused at this point as it seemed as though basing her executive decisions on assumptions and/or past precedents was a bit, well, unconstitutional. Moreover, I became additionally concerned by the fact that Ms. Gagnier would have the confidence and comfort necessary, within ASUCI, to unabashedly offer such an illogical justification of her actions.
Ms. Gagnier was certainly displeased with the end result of her beloved resolution. Deservedly so, but I found her response to my curiosity to be much more revealing than her passion about Proposition 56. Throughout the discussion she was visibly flustered, but covertly infuriated. It was not 10 minutes into the meeting that her guise of intermittent disrespect and cursing became intolerable for her. Apparently unable to take any more scrutiny, she sacrificed her attempt at moderation, and opted for hostility. While half-heartedly addressing the last couple of difficulties I had with how she handled the situation, she abruptly yelled, ‘Get the fuck out of my office!’ To which I quickly retreated back to my inferior position as her constituent, far away from the ASUCI gates. Apparently I really did not know who I was dealing with. Her words, not mine.
Needless to say, I was not satisfied with Ms. Gagnier’s reception of my visit. But what really frightens me is not the verbal abuse she tends to hand out, rather, the ease with which our elected Executive Vice President seems able to hijack the political dialogue in our student government. The students of UC Irvine should not allow this to continue, and should do everything in their power to make sure that Ms. Gagnier never disrespects the Legislative Council, the Judicial Board, or her fellow students, again. We have a responsibility to let her know that we care about how she engages other students, and that we are concerned with how she conducts the affairs of our student government. Ms. Gagnier can be reached at her e-mail address, which is found on the ASUCI Web site.
Clearly, accepting criticism is not something that comes naturally to Ms. Gagnier. Power politics, however, seems to come quite naturally. Of course, much like the asset of invincibility, this political bullying is often short-lived. The trick is, I suppose, to keep a close eye on whom you use the tactic. If one is not careful, one might find their cover blown.
Ryan Mykita is co-chair of the Irvine Conservative Student Union, as well as the publisher of Irvine Review. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.