ASUCI Senate Impeaches Student Advocate General

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ASUCI Senate voted last Thursday to impeach Student Advocate General Oliver Flores for failing to conduct the basic duties of his position throughout the 2016-17 year.  

According to the ASUCI Constitution, the Office of the Student Advocate General “has primary investigative, auditing, and prosecutorial authority for ASUCI.” The SAG is tasked with investigating and charging student leaders for violating the governing documents of ASUCI, imposing structural meetings in ASUCI like staff trainings, presenting ASUCI positions to university administration concerning student rights, and educating the student body about their rights as students. The Internal and External SAGs have similar duties, with only a slight difference.  The Internal  SAG works primarily with intra-ASUCI issues and the External SAG works with the student body.  According to the ASUCI 2016-2017 budget, the annual stipend for the Office of the Student Advocate General amounts to $2,700 in total.

Oliver Flores has carried out virtually none of his responsibilities  as SAG this school year, according to the legislation as well as ASUCI President Tracy La. Flores has not attended any Senate meetings this year, nor has he attended any Executive Officer meetings. He has not reached out to students about campus complaints, and after reading two student reports during fall quarter, he referred them to other organizations rather than personally conducting an investigation. Flores has not completed the Ombudsman training in Conflict Mediation or the Student Conduct Board Training, both of which are required to be completed before beginning the job of SAG.

Humanities Senator Tin Hong voiced his support for Flores’s impeachment during the meeting.

“The Student Advocate General is supposed to be [the students’] champion and that’s why I’m enraged by him,” said Hong. “That’s why [Flores] needs to be impeached: to send the message that if you don’t take your job seriously and if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, then you will be impeached.”

Hong also discussed the division of powers within ASUCI, saying that the proper democratic functioning of the organization requires everyone to do their jobs.

For nearly an hour and a half, Senators discussed the impeachment legislation, but very little discussion focused on Flores himself. Rather, most of the discussion focused on the inclusion of the fact that the current Internal SAG, Siddharth Baranwal, is currently under investigation by an ad-hoc committee headed by the External SAG, Auszza Eaton.  While SAG duties could go to the Internal SAG after an impeachment, the legislation suggested that Eaton take over instead of Baranwal, due to the investigation.

Baranwal is currently running for next year’s ASUCI President, and argued that no mention of his investigation should be included in the legislation to protect his reputation, as he has not been found guilty on any charges.

While the facts of the case were not disclosed, many senators, such as Social Ecology Senator Melissa Safady, agreed with Baranwal and questioned why the clause was necessary to include in the legislation.

“My conscience tells me that as much as I would love to impeach this individual, that I can’t vote for [the impeachment] as long as [the mention of Baranwal’s investigation] is in there,” Safady said.

ASUCI President Tracy La voiced her concern that many senators were focusing on a single line about the investigation of Baranwal rather than discussing the impeachment of Oliver Flores.

“I find it really concerning and uncomfortable  that so much of the focus is on this small part of the legislation, when the main focus and objective of this legislation is to impeach the student advocate general,” said La. “I don’t know why, when we’re trying to be transparent about this process, that so much focus is on this small line.”

After much debate, the clause revealing the investigation of Baranwal was kept in the legislation. Additional clauses were added, clarifying the need to replace Oliver Flores, and the reason why Senate is recommending Eaton for the interim position rather than Baranwal.

The conclusion of the legislation recommended Eaton to fill the role of  Student Advocate General until a special election could take place to select a new Student Advocate General, who would only hold the position for the remainder of this quarter.

Senate ultimately voted to approve the legislation and to impeach Oliver Flores with 16 yes votes.

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