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Thursday, June 4, 2020

AS Board removes amendment prohibiting social media recall campaigning by board members

By Claudia Cooper

The Associated Students Board of Directors passed a motion to remove a recent amendment to the AS Recall Election Code that limited board members from campaigning on their personal social media at their weekly meeting on Friday, Feb 1.

AS President Millka Solomon, who was opposed to the amendment at last week’s meeting, proposed to reopen the discussion about board members posting on personal social media accounts in order to campaign for recall elections. AS VP for Academic Affairs Levi Eckman was absent for the meeting on Jan. 25 where the amendment was passed and wanted to be able to share his opinion on the topic.

“I think it’s important for us to be able to defend ourselves,” Eckman said. “We work the closest with the individual being recalled.”

Meza-Roa argued that the added amendment should remain in the election code and felt that social media would have too great of an influence on voting.

“We shouldn’t allow this popularity aspect to have an influence on the recall,” Meza-Roa said.

The original motion to add the amendment to prohibit AS board members from campaigning on personal social media profiles passed 5-1. This discussion was brought to attention by AS VP of Business and Operations, Genaro Meza-Roa, the board member being recalled. Meza-Roa said he does not have social media accounts and said using personal social media profiles to campaign would be an unfair advantage, according to a previous article by The Western Front.

Solomon said the Recall Election Code is not only for this election, but for recall elections in the future and should not be changed simply because a board member does not have social media.

“This is for the longevity. This is for many years in the future and we have to think outside of the situation as well,” Solomon said. “I have yet to find any good reason to censor a board member.”

The board moved to retract the amendment and the motion passed 4-2-1 with Solomon, Eckman, AS VP for Student Life Anne Lee and AS VP for Diversity Camilla Mejia in favor, AS VP for Governmental Affairs Natasha Hessami and AS VP for Activities Ama Monkah abstaining and Meza-Roa opposed

Now that board members can post freely about the election to their social media following, Eckman added he will be taking advantage of this rule.

“I have voted in the recall election, and I have a Facebook post explaining my reasoning that will be going up this evening,” Eckman said during his board report after the amendment was passed.

Meza-Roa also said he was disappointed about a school-wide email that was sent to Western students and faculty regarding the recall election. The email sent out by the AS Election Coordinator Alec Willis linked to articles by The Western Front and the AS Review that Meza-Roa said only tell one side of the story.

“It was supposed to be a neutral email,” Meza-Roa said. “This is all very disheartening and disappointing.”

Hessami explained that since these publications are student-run and included articles regarding the election, they were linked.

Meza-Roa said he had asked Willis to send out an email apologizing for linking one-sided articles but said Willis refused. Willis was not present when this discussion occurred during the meeting.

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