Undergraduate Student Government senators reversed their vote confirming funding branch positions after receiving complaints of improper appointments within USG during Tuesday’s Senate meeting.
The original vote, which was cast three weeks ago, approved the funding branch appointments made by USG President Edwin Saucedo. No formal complaints had been filed within USG concerning the funding branch appointments, as Saucedo confirmed, but several senators, including Sabrina Enriquez, described funding branch applicants bringing their concerns to them personally outside of the formal process.
“Based on the amount of concern I have, and so many individuals in our organization have had and brought to our attention, it would be irresponsible in my own role to not bring it to a vote,” Enriquez said.
Not all of the senators believed that a recension of the vote was in order. Sen. Daniel Newman was concerned about the precedent that was being set for the next semester, despite a potential issue with unfair appointments.
“The funding votes may not have been as fair as we had hoped,” Newman said. “But I feel that this opens the door to rescinding things in the future.”
Sen. Kate Oh presented redacted interview information to the Senate, which was given to her by Jenny Di, Saucedo’s chief of staff. The interviews did not contain personal information, but instead illustrated the experience of applicants with what they perceived as a biased selection process.
“I found that [out of] 40 applications, only 17 were granted interviews and 11 were given positions,” Oh said. “And out of the 23 that weren’t given interviews, 17 had prior funding experience, and 10 had both funding and USG experience, but weren’t even granted interviews.”
Furthermore, Oh said, four out of the 11 appointed funding branch members had no explicit funding experience, and two had no prior funding or USG experience. These statistics, Oh claimed, indicate that Saucedo’s appointments were biased towards people he personally favored rather than those who were the most qualified for the job.
Di and Saucedo denied claims of inappropriate appointments, especially concerning funding branch members who were also members of the Trojan Knights. Oh said that all three Trojan Knights that made the interview round within funding branch were granted positions, which raised suspicions since Saucedo is also a member of the Trojan Knights.
“I’m not saying those aren’t valid statistics. Those are all true facts,” Di said. “I don’t know if I can address every single one of [the statistics], but [Saucedo] is the only one of us who is a Knight, and he was not the one who called people back for interviews.”
Saucedo agreed, asserting that he considered all applicants equally through a fair and unbiased selection process. Furthermore, he emphasized the point that appointments were not solely his decision.
“I let each one of our executive board members do whatever they felt was best,” Saucedo said. “[Treasurer] Christian [Edwards] thought it was best to interview 17 people because he was confident in those people. I never pushed on any of these people, [and] there were Knights who were rejected on the first round.”
Some senators and executive council members were concerned with the timing of the vote, considering that the transitionary period for new executive members was about to finish and that executive members need to be selected before summer recess begins to ensure smooth rollout in fall semester.
“It would be a big mistake for us make such a drastic motion of rescinding any votes at this point in this process.” Sen. Tyler Matheson said. “Simply because of the lack of knowledge we have on the topic, that’s a mistake on our part.”
Enriquez and Sen. Josh Lurie, who responded to Matheson’s comments, spoke on the process of fairness and the need to resolve the issue despite issues of timeliness.
“The timing of the vote and how it affects the summer and what happens, should not affect the vote,” Lurie said. “If there was a wrong we should fix it. I hope everyone’s making a decision based on informed conversation.”
The Senate voted 7 to 5 to rescind the prior confirmation vote in order to reconsider the appointments. In response, Saucedo proposed an emergency Senate meeting to be held within the next three days.