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ASUCI Chief Justice Resigns From Judicial Board

Update 4/27/2020: This article previously misspelled Michelle Abundis’ last name as “Bundis” in the first paragraph, it has been updated to “Abundis.”

Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story and it will be updated as the New University receives additional information and quotes.

ASUCI Chief Justice Michelle Abundis resigned from her seat on the ASUCI Judicial Board on April 23.

Abundis sent her letter of resignation to ASUCI Senate President Faith Chua and ASUCI President Randy Yan. Abundis said that her resignation would be effective immediately. Her letter of resignation is directed to the entire ASUCI Senate, and Abundis asked Chua to read the letter during the senate meeting this coming Tuesday.

“A resignation impacts how my position gets filled and it seemed a fitting way to leave,” Abundis said. “I wanted to leave in my own terms and this is how I chose to do that.”

Abundis said in her letter that she felt “disillusioned” due to the Senate continuing to pass legislation without “concern.” 

“The ASUCI Senate has become a forum for individuals to avoid facing consequences of their actions,” Abundis said in her letter.

Abundis called for the Senate to communicate with their constituents about their actions, focusing on her censorship for refusing to swear a religious oath, the Senate’s expenditure of the ASUCI reserves, and the Senate allowing for an individual to bill $44 an hour “for a petty vendetta.” 

Although Abundis does not name the individual, the New University can confirm that she is referring to Kimo Gandall, who serves as Senate Parliamentarian and gets paid $40 an hour for his work, as per legislation B55-08, drafted by Engineering Senator Bryce Lindsey. The legislation that appointed Gandall as Parliamentarian was also drafted by Lindsey, passed on Feb. 11 and allowed for Gandall to be paid retroactively for four months of work before he was appointed.

Abundis also mentioned legislation R55-24, drafted by Lindsey, which looked to impeach her for “unfettered judicial activism,” which refers to judicial rulings that are suspected of being based on personal opinion. However, Abundis said in her letter that she was being impeached for following her duties.

Abundis recalled an incident that took place on Feb. 4 in which the Senate “refused” to listen to their constituents. She is referring to the senate meeting in which the senate passed legislation B55-04, drafted by Lindsey, which gave $1,100,000 to less than half of the student population, with $800,000 going to the School of Engineering. During the meeting’s public comment, several students spoke in opposition of the legislation and asked for senators to vote against it; however, the legislation passed that same day with 20 votes in favor, a majority of which came from senators whose constituents did not directly benefit from the legislation.

“My letter of resignation expresses how I felt and what I have held back because of the neutrality I felt benefitted the position,” Abundis said.

Abundis’ resignation comes almost a week after the Judicial Board finished the formal hearings for President Yan’s impeachment. The Judicial Board has not yet released a ruling for the case. According to Abundis, her resignation is not related to Yan’s impeachment hearings.

“That wasn’t really connected … I don’t foresee a ruling coming out in any sooner than a week and a half if that,” Abundis said. “Those will be decisions for people to make after I’m gone.”

The New University reached out to Senate President Chua for comment because she received the letter and is also involved in the prosecution in the presidential impeachment. However, Chua did not respond.

Oriana Gonzalez is the 2019-2020 Editor-In-Chief. She can be reached at eic@newuniversity.org.