In an interview Tuesday, Associated Students President Cervin Morris said that calls for his resignation are premature, and that he continues to perform the duties and responsibilities of his office.
Since his arrest on Nov. 12, 2004, for allegedly hitting a man on the head with a glass bottle and punching another man in the face, Morris has been charged by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office with one count of felony assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury and one misdemeanor count of battery. In the public arena, some students and alumni have called for Morris to resign from his post in A.S. Morris, however, said the courts have yet not passed judgment — and neither should students.
“Attempts to politicize the situation are absurd,” Morris said. “I can’t comment on the case, but what I can say is these charges are alleged. Nothing has become of this. There’s been no verdict, there’s not even been a pre-trial, [and] there haven’t been a lot of things … Asking me to resign is not in cooperation with due process.”
Morris said he continues to work on the behalf of the students, and that he does not think his alleged actions alone are cause enough for his resignation.
“I’ve always been out there,” he said. “I’ve always been tabling. I do my job and I think when you resign, it’s because either you didn’t do you job or the crime is heinous — somewhere along [the lines of] child molestation, something like that. It’s a different type of crime, and you still have to be found guilty … Unless you have been found guilty, why should you resign? You know there is a different political agenda behind the people asking for that.”
Although he has said that he recognizes the seriousness of the charges levied against him, Morris says that those charges have no impact on his job performance.
“The charges being [levied against me] are heavy charges,” he said. “There could be really bad outcomes. But none of this right now has to really do with my assigned duty as being A.S. President.”
Morris said his personal life and schoolwork are the areas of his life that have been most affected by his legal proceedings.
“I wouldn’t let the students suffer … You have to be a student first, but my tuition is being covered and I want to make sure that my job is being done,” Morris said. “I’m still out there in the Arbor, despite whatever maybe going on internally, and it’s about the toughest situation I’ve had to face in my life so far … The stress it’s causing my family, the fact I could be deported — it’s not right.”
With the amount of time Morris puts into A.S., he said that he does not think having his tuition paid for with undergraduate student fees is unfair.
“It’s a little over $2,000 a quarter for a job that goes up to or over 40 hours a week,” he said. “I could make more money at a regular job with less stress. And so people will say, ‘Why don’t you do that?’ ‘Cause I like this. I saw something that needed to be changed and I wanted to change it. [Whether you] remember me for the good things I did or for all of the bad press you’ve seen, I just saw something I like to do and I sacrificed my time to it.”
During their time in office, the tuition of all four A.S. executive officers is paid using money generated from quarterly student fees.
Highlighting some of his work in A.S., Morris said this year’s student government has been more visible than previous administrations and that students know more about the services that the organization provides. The executive officers have been more hands-on and interact more directly with students, he said.
“The things that we’ve done, students like because it isn’t all about, ‘Let’s go out there and everything we have to do has to be political,'” he said. “…We did a lot of political things — helping out with voter registration — but we also brought something that this place needs: the building of community… But there needs to be more things that go on [so] that people can start to build some sort of community and bring the Isla Vista community back that people used to love so much.”
Morris said he wanted to thank his supporters, and that his detractors should not make the lives of others more difficult.
“I’m still a person,” he said. “Even though I haven’t been found guilty or not guilty, I still have my family to face. I deal with that every day. I deal with school, and I’m still out there doing my A.S. work. And if you’re going to hate me because of that still, I don’t know what to tell you. If it happened to you, you know you wouldn’t want to do the same thing …”