Hot on the heels of legal and ethical questions raised by former ASSU executives Hershey Avula and Mondaire Jones’s questionable use of discretionary funds, ASSU Vice President Jay de la Torre’s resignation and subsequent replacement has precipitated numerous questions as to the power granted executives by the ASSU Constitution.
During their Nov. 17 meeting, members of the Undergraduate Senate discussed attempts to restore the ASSU’s credibility and debated how to most appropriately handle replacing de la Torre.
Initiating a discussion of how to repair the ASSU’s integrity, ASSU Financial Manager Matt McLaughlin suggested the creation of a code of conduct to deal with actions that may not violate the Fundamental Standard but tarnish the image of the ASSU. “What I’m really suggesting here is a broad, sweeping attempt to revise our ethical standards and implement them—actually have them, implement them and hold ourselves accountable,” said McLaughlin.
Senator Zachary Warma agreed that implementing such ethical standards would “send a very positive message” that the ASSU is being proactive in dealing with recent issues concerning the ethical behavior of those in positions of power within the ASSU.
Concerning de la Torre’s replacement, ASSU president David Gobaud announced his plans to appoint Andy Parker, current Co-Chief of Staff, to the office of Vice President rather than to hold a special election to fill de la Torre’s seat. During the meeting, Gobaud also announced his appointment of Farah Abuzeid, currently unaffiliated with the ASSU, to fill Parker’s seat as Co-Chief of Staff. The Senate will make its final decision regarding the appointments during a meeting on Dec. 1.
Though the constitution of the ASSU does not specifically state the process by which a Vice President is replaced, it does state: “Should the President become incapacitated, resign, or otherwise be removed from office, the Vice President shall assume the role of President of the Association. The President shall then appoint a member of the Association to be Vice President. This appointment must be approved by a two-thirds vote of each Association legislative body.”
In a recent email to the Senate, Gobaud explained why he believes the ASSU Constitution gives him the power to appoint a Vice President. “The Constitution clearly gives the President the power to appoint a Vice President, subject to legislative confirmation, in the case where the Vice President assumed the role of President because the original President was removed from or left the office,” stated Gobaud.
“I believe the intent of the authors is clear – that the President has the power to appoint a Vice President, subject to legislative confirmation, should the office become open, and that is how I am proceeding,” he said.
One cabinet member familiar with the constitutional issues surrounding de la Torre’s replacement felt that Gobaud should not simply assume he has the power to appoint a vice president and that the Constitution’s lack of clarity warrants holding a special election to replace the Vice President.
Parker’s appointment was not the only point of controversy at the latest Senate meeting. Gobaud’s choice of Farah Abuzeid to take Parker’s seat as Co-Chief of Staff drew numerous questions concerning Abuzeid’s lack of experience with the ASSU. Addressing this lack of experience, Abuzeid mentioned other past experience and credentials that she felt qualified her for the position.