Q&A with ASUN Chief Justice Robert del Carlo on his impeachment decision, more

The following is a list of emailed questions and answers between myself and ASUN Chief Justice, Robert del Carlo, regarding the impeachment process for embattled ASUN President Jake Pereira. I’ve edited for spacing and spelling, but left his answers almost … Continue reading

ASUN AG: Impeachment trial for student body prez must go on

ASUN President Jake Pereira

ASUN President Jake Pereira

According to an opinion filed today by Associated Students of the University of Nevada Attorney General Steven Kish, the scheduled impeachment hearing for President Jake Pereira on May 7 is legitimate and should not be delayed.

The opinion, written in response to Speaker Cadden Fabbi’s request for clarification on the legality of the judicial council’s actions, found that the council acted legally and that a delay in the impeachment proceedings would result in charges brought forth against Fabbi.

In the Judicial Council’s 3-2 decision, the body found that Pereira acted with “malfeasance” in intimidating Kish to delete an erroneously sent email regarding Pereira’s membership in UNR secret society Coffin & Keys. Pereira also lied to students during a presidential debate, saying that he was not affiliated with the group.

(For more information on the judicial council’s opinion, please see my previous post.)

Both Pereira and ASUN Vice President Alex Bybee released statements yesterday admitting their membership in Coffin & Keys.

“I was wrong in being untruthful during the debate and am making every possible effort to be as forthcoming and transparent in this current process moving forward,” Pereira said the statement.

During an interview on Tuesday, Bybee said he will retain support for Pereira due to his leadership, and that being a part of Coffin & Keys is only a part of their identity as leaders.

“Do I think Jake should have lied? No,” Bybee said. “But Jake has been honest since then.”

Bybee said he began the initiation process into Coffin & Keys during the semester, but was not fully aware of Pereira’s membership in the organization until after the election due to the group’s secretive nature.

Pereira and Bybee both stated that they will retain membership in Coffin & Keys. Both leaders denied commenting on the identity of other members in Coffin & Keys, as well as other details about the organization.

A large coffin-shaped sign erected at UNR alleging to name the members of Coffin & Keys was not from the group and not entirely accurate, Bybee said.

“The list that was published on the coffin today was speculative,” he said.

Since the Reno Gazette-Journal published a story on the impeachment process yesterday, more than 530 people have liked a Facebook page titled, “We Stand with Jake Pereira.” A Facebook post on the official Coffin & Keys page promised that the group’s members would continue working towards the betterment of the University of Nevada.

It is neither the comments we post, nor the articles we publish that make us who we are,” the post said. “Rather it is the actions of each of our members, known or not.”

For a collection of documents related to this story, please visit this link.

Did the ASUN Elections Commission possibly nullify the elections?

The Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno elections opened today, and just like last year, the main thrust of the Elections Commission has been to get students to vote online through Webcampus. I’ll have interviews with 3 of the 4 executive candidates up sometime today, but before I do that, I’d like to point out something potentially devastating for the student government.

Students who go to vote on Webcampus today and tomorrow will see 3 options for ASUN President: Huili Weinstock, Richard Corn and None of the Above. It’s the same for Vice-President as well. While it seems like a non-issue, this same situation happened during the 2008 elections, which quickly turned ugly.

Quick history lesson: In 2008, incumbent President Eli Reilly ran against former Sen. Carmen Gilbert in a heated race. A Nevada Sagebrush endorsement article received more than 100 comments in about three days, and the election process was rife with mistakes and legal violations. Reilly defeated Gilbert by 11 votes, but the Elections Commission put a ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot, which 23 voters chose, which Gilbert argued placed neither candidate at a majority and nullified the election.

The ASUN Election Code states in Chapter 502, Section 15, letter E that:

NONE OF THE ABOVE: An option of “None of the Above” shall be placed at the bottom of the
ballot for each Senate college. In the event of this option receiving more votes than a candidate,
the candidate with the next highest amount of votes shall be elected.

Notice that the SAS doesn’t say anything about non-Senate ballots. Barring several hundred students voting for “None of the Above” in the executive races (which the Sagebrush apparently wants, according to their endorsement), their votes won’t mean anything. And if a situation like the one 2008 happens again with a close race, ASUN will go through the same circus that it did four years ago and once again possibly nullify the election.

Even though I doubt this election will be as close as the 2008 process, the fact remains that both situations are set up similarly, leading to a possibility of potential election violations. Any student who votes for “None of the Above” immediately is in a tricky legal spot.

Although it’s appalling that the ASUN Senate hasn’t really clarified this issue in the SAS, the blame lies on the shoulders of the extremely high turnover rate in all ASUN offices. Any organization with such short institutional knowledge is bound to repeat the mistakes of the past, barring proactive efforts by members. Evidently, they haven’t.

UPDATE:

The Sagebrush is reporting the same thing, as well as issues with an incorrect number of senators to vote for. The article says:

The mistake could mean a run-off election for the colleges if the error alters the results, according to a statement from ASUN. More than 35 students from each college voted during the three-hour window. The margin of victory over the only losing College of Liberal Arts senator last year was 28 votes.

Future Plans

With the school year beginning to kick into high gear, I figure that there’s a little bit more that I can do on this blog than occasionally critique the RGJ or the Sagebrush, which is why I’ve decided to implement some new regular features which should have an impact on everyday student life here at UNR. They are:

  • Start an ASUN Elections Blog: In the past, I’ve covered the ASUN elections for the Nevada Sagebrush, but the set-up and execution of the coverage was minimal, to say the least. That’s why I want to delve deeper into these candidates, and hopefully get a better idea of who they are, what they stand for, and if they know what they’re talking about. I won’t hide my biases here, and I promise to be transparent if I have a pre-existing relationship with anyone I cover. Primary elections are on March 7 & 8, so look for interviews, analysis and more in the coming weeks.
  • Follow Friday- Blog edition: There’s a lot of talented bloggers and students at this university, so I want to start a weekly recurring feature about a student and their blog, in the vein of Twitter’s #FF (Follow Friday) hashtag. If you want your blog featured, feel free to email me.

I’ll begin working on these things next week, as I’m going to Portland for a leadership conference this weekend. If I don’t get mauled by hipsters, I’ll probably post a few pictures and blog a bit.