Mired in an indefinite haze of structural ambiguity and lacking a functional judicial branch, members of Associated Students Legislative Council struggled to reason with A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez as she downplayed recent fluctuations in the organization’s traditional hierarchy at last night’s cryptic meeting.
While the council anticipated answers regarding the highly contested and heavily shrouded resignation of Judicial Council Chair Jeanne Sabin last week, they were met with puzzling generalities during Marquez’s Executive Director’s report. Marquez cited a “perception of a conflict of interest” to justify overruling A.S. President Harrison Weber’s appointment of Sabin, who was forced to relinquish her role as Chair in order to retain her job as Legislative Council’s minute-taker, a position the fourth-year has held since her first quarter at UCSB.
As the A.S. Legal Code contains no language prohibiting students from serving simultaneously as student employees — such as minute-takers — and appointed or elected Chairs, several members of Legislative Council attempted to voice their concerns but were stifled by the meeting’s severe limitations on open dialogue.
According to A.S. Internal Vice President Chloe Stryker, Marquez has implemented strict regulations on the disclosure of names and details during the board’s open meetings.
“[Jeanne] was given the choice of resigning or being fired. … They said, ‘If you don’t resign, we’ll fire you from our end — from the employee staff.’” Stryker said. “We talked about it in our Legislative Council minutes and I got a talking-to from Marisela after the meeting saying I’m not allowed to do that because it’s a personnel matter, just like mentioning Kellie’s name last week was not allowed.”
In response to Marquez’s vague allusions to the incident, Off-Campus Representative Kadeem Coad inquired about the background and nature of the discussion. Despite his desire to understand the topic more thoroughly before entering into deliberations, Marquez denied the request.
“In terms of the staff members involved, personnel matter is a very hard matter to talk about in a public meeting,” Marquez said before offering a short synopsis. “We make sure that potential, perceived or even real conflicts of interest are avoided.”
In addition, the Legal Code reaffirms the A.S. President’s authority over the Executive Director in Article VI, Section 2, which states that “The President shall: 1) Be the Chief Executive Officer of the Associated Students and shall coordinate and be responsible for the functioning of the A.S. Executive Director.”
While the Executive Director’s responsibilities include hiring and terminating student employees and ensuring the enactment of all A.S. policies, permanent staff members are not bound by the Legal Code but act in accordance with their own employment contracts. Student employees, however, fall under the purview of neither the Legal Code nor any contracts, which prompted On-Campus Representative Jonathan Abboud to head an ad hoc committee dedicated to safeguarding their employment rights.
“Someone asked, ‘Is there any list of rights that A.S. employees have?’ and pretty much, there isn’t,” Abboud said. “A.S. employees, they’re at the whim of the Executive Director, or at the whim of A.S. staff. They aren’t 100 percent protected and Legislative Council doesn’t really have any authority over that.”
The second installment of this story appears online at the following location: http://www.dailynexus.com/2011-10-07/council-clashes-permanent-staff/