Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story and it will be updated as the New University receives additional information and quotes.
Update 11/19/21: The Petition to Recall ASUCI President has now reached 236 signatures as of 5:55 p.m.
A petition to recall the 2021-22 ASUCI President and fourth year education sciences student Michelle Wei was filed Thursday night and passed earlier this morning. As of Nov. 19 at 5:55 p.m., the petition has been signed by 236 students, requiring 150 undergraduate signatures to pass. As this petition has passed, a special election will be held to determine the next ASUCI President through student voting, to be announced at a later date.
As reported in the New University’s “65 Questions with ASUCI President 2021-22 Michelle Wei” interview, Wei has been studying abroad in South Korea for the full duration of the fall 2021 quarter, expressing her interest in “the food and the culture and all the different places that I can go.”
ASUCI At-Large Sen. and fourth year biological sciences student Sina Shahrood filed the petition, citing his belief that Wei is unqualified in her position as the student body’s representative given her planned absence from UCI’s campus. According to the ASUCI 2021-22 Budget, Wei receives a $9,000 yearly stipend for fulfilling her duties as ASUCI President.
“She decided to accept a study abroad opportunity in South Korea after being elected as president … not advocating for student issues to administration because she is too busy sight-seeing,” the petition stated.
Shahrood further wrote in the petition about disorganization within the Office of the President and of Wei’s inability to fulfill appointed duties, including distributing funds to student organizations.
“Hundreds of RCOs / Clubs have not received the funding they critically need for fall quarter because of her office,” Shahrood said. “She has no clear understanding of her office[’]s budget as per the 11/9 budget report which resulted in her mostly responding with ‘I don’t know’ when asked basic questions.”
In the ASUCI Senate Meeting held on Nov. 9, Wei was questioned at 40:22 about the “very little money of the amount that’s allocated to your office, especially compared to a lot of the other executive branches.” Within the petition, Shahrood alleged that Wei misused ASUCI student funding meant for high school outreach, instead allocating these resources toward personal use.
“Two of your commissioners are taking money from the ASUCI budget, and two commissioners and one staffer are getting dinner on ASUCI’s dime,” an unidentifiable speaker said. “It would be interesting to check the ASUCI rules and guidelines to see if that could be spent or not … how do you morally feel about paying your commissioners to get dinner with their staffers on the students’ money?”
According to Wei, she had “personally been paying for stuff through the stipend that [she] receive[d], so [she’s] been using that money and giving it back towards the staff.”
Wei’s words did not go unchallenged, as others questioned her statement’s truth given the budget tracking sheet visible to all in attendance.
“If that is from your personal stipend, then it should not be put within the allocated amount. That wouldn’t be on the ASUCI budget … you’d be transferring that money to your own bank account. If it is coming out of the Staff Development Fund, that’s different [from] coming from your own stipend,” another unidentifiable speaker said.
On a Reddit post created Thursday informing students of the petition, the highest upvoted comment as of Nov. 19 at 5:55 p.m. was made by Reddit user /u/Meow-_-78, who questioned Wei’s intentions in campaigning to become ASUCI President given her plans to travel abroad.
“For study abroad you have to plan a year ahead so she ran as ASUCI president knowing she was planning to leave. Huh?! I’m sincerely asking,” they said.
Writing under a pseudonym, /u/throwaway10385783 expressed support for the petition and alleged that the Office of the President has faced operative difficulties under Wei’s term as ASUCI President.
“Not saying what I do, but I’m very involved in the Office of the President and agree with the sentiments in the petition … our office is truly crumbling under Michelle’s [Wei] leadership,” they said. “It’s sad that nothing is getting done and those in her office aren’t adequately trained to host fun or engaging events.”
Emma Cho is a 2021-2022 Campus News Editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.