Associated Students President Daevionne Beasley filed a petition against the Associated Students Elections Board on Wednesday, alleging that it violated Legal Code procedures by allowing freshmen and first-year transfer students — who were not students during the spring election — to sign a petition to put a recall vote for the president on this quarter’s special election ballot.
The petition was filed Wednesday afternoon, mere hours before the Senate was set to vote to put the recall vote on next week’s special election ballot.
Associated Students (A.S.) Judicial Council placed an injunction on voting on the recall petition approximately one hour before Wednesday night’s Senate meeting, intended to halt voting on the recall petition until the Judicial Council could meet to deliberate on the case.
But during the A.S. Senate’s Wednesday night meeting, senators voted to move forward with the special election and keep the recall vote on the ballot, for which voting begins Oct. 26 and closes on Oct. 29.
The recall efforts come five months after a UCSB student alleged that Beasley sexually assaulted him in 2018, which Beasley denies.
The dispute at hand is whether freshmen and first-year transfer students — who would not have been UCSB students during the Spring Quarter 2020 Election — are allowed to sign the petition to put a recall vote on the ballot for next week’s election. Beasley, who is the subject of the recall, filed the Judicial Council petition himself.
According to Article 11 Section 4 of the A.S. Constitution, a petition to recall an executive officer, including the president, must receive a number of signatures equal to 10% “of the total membership of its members who voted for said office immediately preceding Associated Students’ General Election.”
The petition has remained private to only Beasley, Elections Board and Judicial Council, but a copy obtained by the Nexus shows that Beasley filed the petition against Elections Board, arguing that freshman and first-year transfers should not have been allowed to sign the petition in support of recalling Beasley.
Beasley did not speak at Wednesday night’s Senate meeting, but in a statement to the Nexus said he is “determined to explore all my legal options.”
“I now realize that certain individuals, regardless of the fact that none of the accusations against me have been proven, are so eager to see me go that they will blatantly violate their own Constitution and deny me the decency of a fair and transparent process,” Beasley said.
He also stated that he finds it “very insulting and hypocritical that some senators insist that the injunction the nonpartisan Judicial Council filed is corrupt, when in reality their vote to overrule it was unconstitutional.”
Elections Board Chair Andrew Yan said that the Elections Board disagrees with the way Beasley has interpreted the Legal Code in this case, saying that under Elections Board’s interpretation, freshmen and first-year transfer students are allowed to sign a recall petition concerning an election from the previous academic year.
During its meeting this Tuesday, the Elections Board voted unanimously that the 10% number refers to the total number of student voters for that position — not to the specific people who voted for the office in that election. For instance, Yan said that approximately 5,420 students voted in the presidential election last spring, so 542 current undergraduate students must sign the petition.
“Every student at UCSB is a member of Associated Students, that’s just how it works, they all pay the fee, so I agree that it’s 10% of the population that is voting for that executive officer, and that population is all undergraduate students,” Austin Foreman, former A.S. senator and current member of the Elections Board, said in the meeting.
While the petition lists Elections Board as the official respondent, it mentions social media posts from Gauchos For Transparency President Izzy Mitchell, alleging she “purposefully made false claims to students about … the eligibility of potential signatories of her petition,” and that it was “malicious and dangerous” to advertise that freshmen and first-year transfers could sign the petition.
On Oct. 29, Judicial Council will hold a public hearing where Elections Board members and Beasley will speak two hours before the special election voting period closes.
While the injunction was supposed to halt the Senate’s votes on the recall — effectively removing it from the ballot for the special election — the Senate instead decided to move ahead, voting in favor of the recall election.
Judicial Council Chair Raymond Alonso spoke at the meeting, telling senators that Judicial Council members and their advisor Marilyn Dukes unanimously agreed that putting an injunction over the Senate votes was a necessary step until the Judicial Council could hold a hearing to decide on the case.
“I have an obligation to file injunctions when they are mandated by the circumstances. It would be irresponsible, and a violation of Legal Code, to have not filed an injunction in this case, because of how it affects the ballot itself,” Alonso said.
According to Legal Code, only one special election can be held per quarter, so if the recall was not placed on next week’s ballot, it would have to be delayed until Winter Quarter 2020.
The Senate approved a motion during its Wednesday night meeting to have a special election that involves a recall vote “regardless and independent of the outcome of the Judicial Council case of the injunction due to articulated concerns from constituents and limited timeframe which we have to work.”
The Senate cited Article 2 Section 4 of Legal Code in making the motion, which states that “upon approval of a two-thirds majority of the voting membership of the Senate, a special election may be called.”
The Judicial Council has the power to place an injunction over the Senate, but as discussed in Wednesday night’s meeting, the Legal Code does not explicitly state that senators cannot overrule an injunction.
Attorney General Tyler Barth told senators that “Legal Code is ambiguous” when it comes to the Senate overruling an injunction made by the Judicial Council.
Executive Director Marisela Marquez said in the meeting that there is no constitutional precedent for the Senate to overrule the powers of the Judicial Council.
Senators deliberated at length during the seven-hour meeting, talking about the precedent that would be set by moving forward with a recall vote after the Judicial Council placed an injunction over the proceedings.
“There is something in the constitution saying that the Judicial [Council] can do an injunction, but there’s nothing in the constitution that says that it cannot be challenged,” Off-Campus Senator Manny Roman said during the meeting.
“If we’re presented with a situation that has not been done before, then it’s our job to be able to propose something right, set a precedent,” he added.
Initially, the Senate voted to overrule Judicial’s Council’s injunction. Later in the meeting, however, senators instead voted to move forward with a special election in spite of the injunction, instead of overriding the injunction itself.
As of Thursday, the Elections Board is still preparing to have the recall vote on Monday’s ballot, Yan said.
Over the course of the Senate meeting, which ended around 1 a.m., five members of the public spoke in favor of the recall and implored senators to do whatever necessary to keep the recall on next week’s ballot.
“You can say that you care about survivors as much as you want, but what really matters is action,” third-year history major Alana Ulloa told the Senate. “What matters is taking actual steps to listen to survivors and protect us.”
“A good place to start is recalling the current president, listen[ing] to the multiple survivors that have come forward. In my many years at UCSB, the administration — even my own student government — has shown me time and time again, they don’t care about me as a sexual assault survivor, I have been shown time and time again what I say does not matter,” she said.
Ulloa also presented the speech of another survivor who was not at the meeting, who asked the Senate to “stop allowing for the sidelining of this recall.”
“We have spent months trying to be heard and push this recall, only for an injunction to be filed by the person at hand one hour before this meeting, to pause any action for the entire fall quarter most likely,” Ulloa read.
“I understand that legal code is important to A.S., but I asked that you all for one second, take a step back and attempt to feel the emotion of a survivor, of a student who has to constantly battle for their safety and well-being.”
External Vice President for Statewide Affairs Alia Reynolds told senators that she’s been “completely and utterly uncomfortable” meeting weekly with Beasley for executive officer meetings due to his “actions, lack of action to repair the damage he has done to an entire community, and the fact that I am a survivor and advocate for survivors.”
Reynolds announced that she will no longer be communicating or working with Beasley or his office for the rest of her term, and that she will no longer be attending any A.S. meetings that involve Beasley.
External Vice President for Local Affairs Yasamin Salari and Internal Vice President Tianna White both said that following Reynolds’ message in the public forum, they will be attending executive meetings with Reynolds that are separate from their meetings with Beasley.
“UCSB has an issue with sexual assault,” Salari told the senators. “If standing with survivors has turned into a partisan issue for you, you need to reevaluate your priorities and why you’re serving in this position in the first place.”
Several speakers and senators throughout the evening took issue with the “hypocrisy” that Beasley was allowed to file a petition which would essentially halt his own recall election for a quarter.
“The one person who is an alleged predator was able to prevent his own removal,” Off-Campus Senator Esme Quintero-Cubillan said. “I know I’m not allowed to curse, but I’m very fucking tired. And I want us to do better.”
Alonso told the Senate during the public forum that Beasley “absolutely does have an interest in not being removed from office,” but that he also has a right to file a petition to the Judicial Council “as a normal member of Associated Students.”
“My only interest is that Legal Code wasn’t broken. I don’t have an opinion as to … whether or not Elections Board violated Legal Code,” Alonso said.
Even after the Senate voted to have a special election regardless and independent of Judicial Council’s injunction, the path ahead of Monday, when voting begins, is unclear. During the Senate meeting, senators who are members of the Internal Affairs Committee said they plan to add a measure to Monday’s ballot which would amend Legal Code to allow the Senate to override Judicial Council injunctions moving forward.