Usually a letter of this nature comes from the Editor-In-Chief, but given that the Editor-In-Chief is the reporter in this situation, this is a rare case where I, the Managing Editor, step in to make a statement defending the credibility of the New University. After reviewing the reporting process of the article in question, it is clear that several faulty and unfounded assumptions about the New University were made, and I am compelled to set the record straight.
ASUCI Senate Parliamentarian Kimo Gandall released a statement on Wednesday, March 11 in regards to the testimony by the Office of the Student Advocate General that finds him guilty of several misconduct charges.
In his statement, Gandall made several claims and assumptions regarding a “reporter of the ‘New U’” — that reporter is the New University’s Editor-In-Chief, Oriana Gonzalez. In this letter, I do not intend to respond to the entirety of Gandall’s statement. However, I will be responding to the mistaken assumptions and false assertions he made about Gonzalez and by extension the New University.
Gandall first mentions Gonzalez when he writes, “I was shocked to discover, upon being confronted by a reporter of the ‘New U’ that specific details of this case had been given out to the media, but not to me. While the reporter left before giving me further details, it is unfortunate that the SAG has decided to leak information to the media without providing due process to the respondent.”
Gonzalez’s interaction with Gandall went as follows:
Gonzalez emailed Gandall at 10:41 a.m. on March 11 to ask for an interview shortly after she saw the results of the Office of the Student Advocate General’s investigation. He responded at 11:17 a.m. and said that he had not been notified of the report and asked if she could send the report to him. Gonzalez answered at 11:20 a.m. with a link to the report and asked if he would be available for an interview. Gandall did not respond to her email.
Gonzalez released the article about the Office of the Student Advocate General’s report at 11:34 a.m. with an Editor’s Note saying, “This is a breaking news story and will be updated.” This note was specifically added because she had not yet obtained any quotes from the people involved and wanted to make sure that readers knew this article would be updated. This process of first reporting on what information is readily available is typical of articles immediately relevant to the public, and new information is added as the reporter receives it — it is impractical and irresponsible for a news organization to hold off publishing a time sensitive article to wait for every potential subject to respond in their own time. Gonzalez continued to work on updates throughout the day, but by first reaching out, she did her due diligence.
In the article, Gonzalez specifically says that the New University received evidence that was used in the investigation from an anonymous source, as the source requested that their identity not be released. In this regard, Gandall wrongfully assumes that the Student Advocate General “decided to leak the information to the media.” I cannot speak for other media outlets at UCI, but the New University received the evidence from someone who is not associated with or related to anyone from the Office of the Student Advocate General.
Gonzalez did not mention anything regarding the source’s affiliation in the article to protect the source’s identity — a source which the New University can confirm is legitimate. However, even though the source is not identified in the article, Gandall made a false and unfounded assumption about the identity of the source.
At around 12:15 p.m., Gonzalez went to Gandall’s office to ask for an interview in person since he had not responded to her previous email. Gandall said that he was going to meet with his thesis adviser, and that he did not know how long the meeting would last, but that Gonzalez could interview him, that same day, before 7 p.m.
Gonzalez went back at around 2:30 p.m. and found Gandall in his office. He said that he saw that she had “posted something on Reddit.” Gonzalez questioned this because she had not and has never posted anything New University-related on Reddit, to which Gandall replied saying that he “saw” that the New University posted something. Gonzalez understood his statement to mean that someone (non-New University affiliated — we do not have an official Reddit account) posted the article on Reddit, and he saw it there.
After Gonzalez proceeded to ask him about the interview, he said that the only thing he would say was what he had been telling “everyone else,” that the charges “were not true.” Gonzalez then told him — or “confronted” him, as he says — that she had seen the evidence and that it showed instances of him telling senators what they should vote for in the fall. Here, Gandall gave Gonzalez two conflicting answers: he said that he did not know what she was talking about and then, in a different answer, he proceeded to imply that the actions he was able to take as an intern — which he was during fall quarter — are not the same as those he is able to take now.
Gandall then said that he would not be giving any “further comment” and wished Gonzalez “good luck” with her news articles, after which she left. In his statement, Gandall says that Gonzalez left before giving him “further details,” which is true. Gandall was given the opportunity to have a full interview and address “further details” — choosing to make no “further comment” was his call. Gandall acknowledged that he knew the New University “posted” something when Gonzalez saw him in the afternoon. Gandall’s statement was released on Wednesday night and the article was released on Wednesday morning. Again, in the article, Gonzalez does not reveal the source’s identity.
Given that his statement was released almost 10 hours after the article was initially published and almost six hours after Gonzalez updated it with what he told her, it is unclear whether Gandall read Gonzalez’s article before he accused the Student Advocate General of releasing the evidence to the media, specifically to the New University.
In Gandall’s statement, he refers to Gonzalez again when he says, “The reporter of the New U, while having more information than I did about my own case, alleged that during the opening of fall quarter I acted unethically by advocating for legislation as an intern.”
I want to clarify that Gonzalez did not allege anything. After he told her that the charges “were not true,” she told him that there were instances in the evidence that showed of him telling senators what vote to cast for specific pieces of legislation and other instances of ASUCI Engineering Senator Bryce Lindsey — who was also found guilty of misconduct — indicating in messages to other senators that the Senate needed “textualist” judges “like Kimo Gandall” to “accomplish everything we [the Senate] want to do.” She did not accuse him of any of the charges nor did she say that he “acted unethically,” as it is not her job to do so as a journalist. Gonzalez just told him of some of the things the evidence showed him and Lindsey saying.
Gonzalez is mentioned again in Gandall’s statement when he says, “While our good friend at the New U may disagree with this capacity, she is welcome to make such clear during the public comment period of senate (that is, when the de facto quarantine of UCI ends).” Here, he is suggesting that Gonzalez disagrees with the fact that parliamentarians hold communications “to explain why certain bylaw reforms or rule changes should be made to comply with Robert’s Rules of Order.”
Acting as a journalist providing news coverage of different issues happening within ASUCI, Gonzalez has never offered any sort of personal opinion regarding Gandall’s role as a parliamentarian. Gandall, once again, is making unfounded assumptions. Gonzalez does not intend to “make such clear during the public comment period of the senate” because, as a journalist, she is reporting on events taking place and is not releasing or publishing any sort of personal opinion about ASUCI.
Gandall refers to the media again when addressing the charges revolving around voter manipulation. He says, “At this time, our only knowledge of what the SAG meant by this has been given to the media.” I want to reiterate that I cannot speak for any other media source, but the Student Advocate General did not give any sort of evidence to the New University.
The New University will not be publishing any further comment regarding this situation. Considering that Gandall made wrongful assumptions about Gonzalez’s work as a reporter and falsely accused the Student Advocate General of releasing information to the media, it was necessary to address his concerns and clarify the interactions between Gonzalez and Gandall on March 11.
Jane Hagen is the 2019-2020 Managing Editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.