Disclaimer: Internal Vice President Bee Schaefer sent an email to the A.S. community at 4:57 a.m. this morning with several claims and allegations against A.S. administrators, staff and students unsubstantiated by the Nexus. While we are aware of and are investigating these claims, we have chosen not to publish them until we can provide balanced and thorough reporting on the subject.

This article has been updated to include further statement from External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Marvia Cunanan. 

A recall petition process against UC Santa Barbara Associated Students Internal Vice President Bee Schaefer has officially begun, according to petition student sponsor Miranda Lawrence and Associated Students Senator Sohum Kalia. 

For an official recall election to take place, 10% of those who voted in the Spring Quarter 2022 A.S. Election — 385 students — must sign an initial petition Daily Nexus File Photo

The petition was released today by Associated Students (A.S.) Elections Board.

The process was initiated after claims of Schaefer’s negligence of her position — including not presiding over necessary appointments and not facilitating necessary distribution of funding and honoraria due to summer absence — were made by members of A.S. beginning late September.

Schaefer — who is currently on strike against the Senate and A.S. — has continued to claim zero wrongdoing throughout the turmoil; following the allegations, Schaefer said that she has been a victim of anti-Black and discriminatory treatment by A.S. members. Her strike, which includes a refusal to call the Senate to session, will continue indefinitely until an investigation is started into her claims, she stated in several emails to the A.S. body. 

In a statement released today by A.S. President Gurleen Pabla, she said that Schaefer had failed to fulfill the duties of her role and that allegations of discrimination by Schaefer should be investigated separately from allegations of negligence against her. 

“There is no confusion about the concerns that prompted this response. There has been a lack of communication and transparency by Internal Vice President Bee Schaefer that has caused distress throughout the association. An exacerbation of response now does not restore the lack of response since the summer from the Internal Vice President,” she said in the statement. “Many individuals, including myself, attempted to reach the Internal Vice President in the summer and were, for the most part, unable to receive adequate response.”

Pabla — who condemned all forms of racism and discrimination in her statement — also discussed the recall petition and said that Schaefer’s strike was fundamentally disrupting integral A.S. functions. 

“The silencing of discussion/debate by halting the Senate has also frozen the ability for A.S. boards and committees to function. It has debilitated organizations outside of A.S. who rely on us for funding. Even if email votes are made, there is no place for public discussion, which is integral to a democracy. It is up to you all to decide whether this can continue,” the statement read. 

Nineteen of the Senate’s 20 members released a statement on the situation yesterday, similarly stating that the IVP’s negligence should be investigated in conjunction with the allegations she made of harassment and anti-Black discrimination against her. 

External Vice President for Statewide Affairs Marvia Cunanan said that if students believe Schaefer is unable to perform the duties of her position, she would “wholeheartedly support” and sign a recall petition. 

“As a disabled exec, I can understand Bee’s distress with having ableist phrases like ‘crippling’ Senate functions being used to evaluate her performance,” she said in a statement to the Nexus. 

“That being said … I empathize with and support the students who are asking for clarity and transparency, trying to manage their frustration, struggling to understand if and how their student fees are being handled, and needing answers to their questions and concerns,” the statement continued.

Cunanan said that Schaefer had not adequately addressed the allegations against her, and has abused her power by taking punitive measures like reporting students to the Office of Student Conduct — who found Schaefer’s claims unsustained.

“Leaders facing accountability need to avoid harmful or retaliatory behaviors,” she said in the statement. “I’m disturbed by [Schaefer] using institutional threats that have the impact of intimidating students who are righteously seeking to tell the truth or find accountability without directly engaging in harmful activity against [Schaefer].”

Hailey Stankiewicz, UCSB’s External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) and 2021-22 Senate Finance and Business (F&B) Committee chair, released a statement today stating that she shares student concerns around Schaefer’s fulfillment of duties, which she has personally experienced, although she unconditionally disavows harassment and anti-Blackness against Schaefer. 

“As a former elected Letters & Science senator of the 72nd Legislative Body and prior Finance and Business (F&B) Committee Chair, I acknowledge how the delay in appointing an F&B Chair for the 2022-2023 year has been upsetting to students, as multiple registered campus organizations were hindered in their ability to access AS funds for events and projects,” she said in the email. 

“I, too, have experienced issues regarding communication and the fulfillment of duties with Bee Schaefer, not only as a former senator who operated under her purview, as a member of the 2021-2022 Honoraria Committee, or as F&B Committee Chair, but also as a fellow executive officer and colleague,” the statement continued.

Student Advocate General Kristen Wu said in an email statement that she acknowledges the absence of a resolution regarding allegations both by and against Schaefer has made A.S. functioning extremely difficult. She acknowledged criticism as an aspect of public office but condemned messages of racism, anti-Blackness and discrimination. 

Lawrence, a third-year physics major and co-chair of Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) said she is student sponsoring the petition for the recall because her organization — which is an A.S. Board, Commission and Unit (BCU) — was adversely impacted by Schaefer’s negligence of Internal Vice President (IVP) duties. 

These duties include appointing a first pro-tempore — who would oversee the Senate in her absence — and a F&B committee chair, who oversees the distribution of payment to A.S. BCU members like SASA. Currently, no pro-tempore has been appointed, and F&B Chair Adam Majcher was appointed on Sept. 28 — meaning he had no powers over summer when BCU appointments and funding for the upcoming year are typically made. 

“We were all very affected by the absence of the IVP this past summer. Coming into the school year, we wanted to get going on projects that we’ve been planning and funding for student organizations that we think are very beneficial to the student body,” Lawrence said. “But upon coming back to the school year, we found that we could not access any of our allotted funds from A.S. due to the IVP failing to appoint a pro temp in her absence.”

Because of the lack of SASA appointments over the summer, the organization only had one legally appointed member — Lawrence, who was appointed last year — and could not legally meet, stunting their progress further, she said. 

Kalia also said that because Majcher and the F&B committee are so backed up with requisitions for funding from students and alumni that they are unable to take on current requests. 

For an official recall election to take place, 10% of those who voted in the Spring Quarter 2022 A.S. Election — 385 students — must sign an initial petition, and two-thirds of at least 20% of the UCSB A.S. student body must vote affirmatively to officially recall the candidate from office.

If the petition is ratified by the student vote and the Senate by Week 5 — next week — it can be officially voted on this quarter, Kalia said. However, if it is ratified any later, students would not be able to vote in a formal recall election until winter quarter per A.S. Legal Code. Because special elections are only able to be held once a quarter, if Schaefer was to be ousted from the office during a winter quarter vote, students would not be able to vote for a new IVP until spring quarter, according to Kalia. 

Should Schaefer be removed from the position this quarter or next quarter without a pro-tempore in place — because one has currently not been appointed and Senate is out of session due to the strike until further notice — the current EVPLA would step into the role and most likely appoint a new pro tempore who could then chair the Senate, according to Kalia. 

Ted Giardello, the chair of A.S. BCU the Living History Project, originally voiced complaints and claims of legal code violations against Schaefer and was planning to student sponsor the petition, but chose not to because he said he “would like the senate to show leadership and political courage in support of students and organizations being intimidated” before proceeding. 

Lawrence said that although she was originally nervous about publicly sponsoring the recall petition, she moved forward with the process because she thought it was a necessary step.

Sindhu Ananthavel contributed reporting.

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Holly Rusch
Holly Rusch (she/her) is the Lead News Editor for the 2022-23 school year. Previously, Rusch was the University News Editor and co-Lead News Editor for the 2020-21 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com or hollyrusch@dailynexus.com.