Students to bring petition for recall vote in AS election
Senior Giovanni Rincon shows junior Amber Smith where to sign her name on the recall petition. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES
The Associated Students elections process continues this week, with students preparing a petition requesting a recall and the newly formed elections reform committee expected to meet for the first time in the next few weeks.
The conversations come on the heels of the senate's vote last week in favor of junior Evan Tan and sophomore Becky Gallacher to break a tied election for president and vice president. Senior Giovanni Rincon and sophomore Atticus Shires have been circulating a petition requesting a recall.
“The approach has been: This is not about who won, who lost, who’s going to be in office, who’s not going to be in office,” said Rincon, a psychology and communications double major. Rincon feels that senators’ votes in the tie-breaker were not representative of the students.
Tan "technically" an elected official
Rincon and Shires expect to present a petition to recall Tan’s win by the end of the week — a move partially outlined in the constitution.
“Any elected officer of AS shall be subject to recall by a petition signed by members of the Student Body,” reads Article IX, section II of the AS constitution and bylaws.
For the petition to be accepted, 10 percent of the undergraduates need to sign, a goal that Rincon and Shires are three-fourths of the way to and expect to meet by the weekend.
Rincon and Shires believe this can be applied to Tan, as a president-elect.
“He has been elected, so he is technically an elected official,” Shires said.
The idea that a recall refers to an official’s wrongdoing is “an unfortunate colloquialism that people use in context of those situations,” Shires said. However, a recall does not have to insinuate that something negative has occurred, he said.
Students express frustration with system
AS adviser Laura Igram-Edwards has spoken with many students who have expressed frustration with the situation.
Igram-Edwards explained that she sees two different paradigms at work in the discussion about the petition. The first paradigm — within which AS will operate — is that “the constitution must be our guiding force,” Igram-Edwards said.
The opposing paradigm says that the constitution should not dictate every single thing AS does, she said.
“Obviously, it’s not perfect. We can see that there are holes right now. There’s not a provision for every thing that could happen,” she said. She expects AS to continue to rely upon the constitution as they enter even grayer areas.
The toll of the continued elections processes is both pragmatic and emotional, Igram-Edwards said.
Hiring process delayed until results are made final
The process of hiring non-elected staff has been delayed as they wait to hear results, Igram-Edwards explained. The four layers of hiring — for senators, the executive board, coordinators and support staff — are still in a holding pattern, which is creating a struggle for hiring additional senators and the rest of the AS staff, she said.
“Emotionally, it has been really difficult. It’s touched every member of this staff in a different way,” she said.
AS has begun to assemble an elections reform committee, which is scheduling dates to meet in the next few weeks, Igram-Edwards said. The committee will begin researching what other universities do.
“We all agree that there are some changes that can be made to the elections process; we don’t all know what that could be or should be, legitimately,” she said.
She listed other conversations that had helped inform her decisions on how to best interact with students about the changes.
Allowing students' voices to be heard
“At this point, I’m not sure what will be done if the petition comes forward,” Igram-Edwards said. She noted that deans within Student Development have been included in the decision-making process at this point.
Regardless of what happens with the petition, the students submitting it hope that it allows students’ voices to be heard and attention to be drawn to AS.
“Sometimes it just takes a slightly controversial situation or something that rocks the boat for people to know what AS is,” Rincon said.
Shires agreed that was a plus of the situation, and added that he hopes to see the Biola community grow through this.