Associated Students violated a California open meeting law over the last two weeks by failing to post agendas for three closed meetings, according to a legal expert.
The Associated Students elections judicial council held meetings on March 7 at 4 p.m. and March 14 at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. They addressed complaints filed against Celine Moubayed and Colin Eacobellis, Associated Students president and vice president candidates, respectively.
The elections judicial council failed to post agendas for the meetings as required by the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act, a California law regulating student governments.
Apparently, it is standard practice for the elections judicial council to fail on posting agendas for its meetings.
“There are no agendas for the meetings. They are pretty standard. We receive a complaint and the person that filed the complaint and the person the complaint is filed against receives an email from me letting them know that the complaint has been received,” said Rachel Langenfeld, Associated Students election director and elections judicial council chair.
Agendas for board of directors or committees meetings must disclose items to be discussed in a closed session beforehand, according to the Associated Students’ bylaws and the Gloria Romero Act.
“We can clearly say they violated the law by not posting notice of agenda,” said Mike Hiestand, attorney and senior legal consultant for the Student Press Law Center.
According to its own bylaws, the Associated Students board of directors and all of its councils and committees are required to comply with the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act.
Violations of the act can carry consequences.
“Each member of a legislative body who attends a meeting of that legislative body where an action is taken in violation of any provision of this article, with knowledge that the meeting is in violation of this article, is guilty of a misdemeanor,” according to the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act.
As a result of these meetings, Moubayed and Eacobellis were disqualified from the elections. They said they feel wronged by the Associated Students’ actions and want the organization to acknowledge that the bylaws were violated.
“Our main concern right now is just to see something different happen next year,” Moubayed said. On March 20, she said “An apology would be nice.”
Drew Wiley, Associated Students program development director and non-voting member of the elections judicial council said, “The election judicial council is not a board or committee in the sense of things like our board of directors, board of trustees or committees under those.”
However, the elections judicial council is a sub-body of Associated Students and is composed of elected student officials chosen by the board of directors and two non-voting staff advisors. Members are appointed in the fall and the council dissolves after the spring semester.
In the closed meetings, the elections judicial council found Moubayed and Eacobellis in violation of the bylaws for sending “spam” emails to students and were disqualified from the race.
— Breanna B (@breanna_belken) March 15, 2018
“Celine and I already felt like we were just kind of getting tossed aside by ASI and the school,” Eacobellis said. “We’re waiting to see what happens, and hoping something does happen and justice sees the light of day, because in the end, Celine and I have been victims through this whole process.”
University administrators that oversee Associated Students were asked to comment on the closed meetings.
“We are looking into the matter you have referenced in your questions and will get back to you when we have more information,” said Dave Edwards, executive director of Associated Students, in an email responding to the Daily Titan’s request for comments on the meetings.
Berenecea Johnson Eanes, vice president of student affairs, could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts by email, phone and office visits.