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ASUCI Petition Calls for Recall of Justices

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Update 11/30/20: The article has been updated for accuracy of named individuals.

A petition regarding allegations of recurring issues within ASUCI recently surfaced on the web with the main goal to recall the following ASUCI judges: Kimo Gandall, Joshua Wolfe, Logan Knight, Nick Ortiz, Heriberto Mendez and Madison Craw. 

Steven Gong, one of the main advocates for the petition, is a second-year human biology and economics major who has been working for ASUCI as an Organizing Aide in the Mobilizing and Organizing Commission. 

Gong believes that the petition can serve, “as an official means to remove individuals … and also a calling to administration so that they can step in, and we can get back into working.”

One of Gong’s concerns is that ASUCI isn’t adhering to the bylaws outlined in the ASUCI Constitution

Gong hopes that by solving this issue and ensuring that ASUCI is adhering to the bylaws, that it will restore the function of ASUCI and diminish the stigma that ASUCI doesn’t contribute much to the student experience. 

ASUCI Chief Justice Michelle Abundis shared this sentiment when she resigned from her seat on the Judicial Board on April 23, 2020. In her resignation letter, she mentions a senate meeting in which legislation B55-04 gave $800,000 to the School of Engineering. 

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

The ASUCI Constitution article three-section eight states that, “Students have the right to observe all aspects of the elections process to ensure their rights are respected and have the right to gather information and seek remedies for violations.” 

Although students can exercise the right to have their voices heard, there isn’t a concrete plan from ASUCI that prevents recalled senators from running again for office.  

A similar issue occurred when it was revealed that members of the Senate were urging each other to vote for specific candidates. ASUCI Engineering Senator Bryce Lindsay was accused by the Office of the Student Advocate General of revealing confidential information in text messages when the appointment of his colleague, Judicial Board Associate Justice Kimo Gandall, was being discussed. 

Some of the other grievances mentioned in the ASUCI petition are low ASUCI voter turnout, an ASUCI Senate supermajority and an abuse of power. The petition, written by second-year nursing science major Henry Vu, also highlights how “student fees [were used] to raise the pay for Justices 233% during a pandemic.”

“These individuals were supposed to represent the students from their respective schools and help make UCI a better place, yet they only used their power as Senators selfishly, leading to the first recall petition to remove them as Senators.” Vu said. “Even when faced with a recall, they chose not to step down from their Senate seats and continued to stay on the Senate, as if nothing had happened.”

Despite the petition, Gong does not expect the justices to listen.

 “There are so many initiatives and plans just sitting on the table because of these individuals, including a COVID-19 grant for students … We don’t anticipate the justices resign through petitioning — they ignored the last one we presented.” 

Vu shares Gong’s concern that ASUCI won’t take action.

 “As of right now, students are still being denied a special election because of an injunction issued by the Judicial Board, despite the petition being the most popular student petition submitted, reaching the required signature count in under 24 hours. So far, administration has not interceded to give students a representative democracy either,” he said.

The ASUCI Commissioner couldn’t be reached for further comment.

Magaly Bravo is a Campus News Intern for the Fall 2020 Quarter. She can be reached at bravomt@uci.edu