Western Washington University Associated Students Vice President for Business and Operations Genaro Meza during a board meeting on Jan. 18, 2019. // Photo by Oliver Hamlin
The Associated Students Board of Directors voted to initiate a campus-wide vote to recall AS Vice President of Business and Operations Genaro Meza-Roa at their meeting on Friday, Jan. 18. Following a unanimous recommendation for Meza-Roa’s impeachment from the Associated Students Student Senate this week, the board voted 6-1 in favor of his impeachment, with Meza-Roa being the only dissenter.
The student body recall vote for Meza-Roa will occur at the earliest on Feb. 1 and at the latest Feb. 8th. The recall will require a majority vote against Meza-Roa by the student body to pass, according to Leti Romo, Assistant Director of Student Representation and Governance.
In a letter signed by all members of the board except Meza-Roa, the board said their decision to seek a recall election was because of his inability to meet responsibilities laid out in his job description.
According to the letter, Meza-Roa failed to attend or take part in events including a mandatory fall training for all AS employees, the first AS board meeting of the year, and an important goal-setting exercise during the board’s work-related retreat to Anacortes.
The letter also said Meza-Roa left a December AS board meeting and was later found drinking wine at a College of Science and Engineering holiday party. In an article by the AS Review, Meza-Roa previously asserted that all AS board members have drank during their duties. Fellow board members said in the letter this claim was false and that while other board members had shared drinks before, it was only during time that they were not serving in their work-capacity, they were over 21 years of age and they weren’t being paid at the time, according to an article by the AS Review.
In the letter, the board said it was unsure about the direction Meza-Roa wishes to take the position, if any.
“We continue to recognize that people are not disposable, and we desperately desired to give Mr. Meza-Roa the opportunity to change and grow as an individual,” the board’s letter said. “However, we acknowledge that we gave too many chances, and for this, we would like to apologize to our fellow-students.”
According to an article by the AS Review, at board meetings during fall quarter, Meza-Roa clashed with fellow board members as they confronted him after his use of a derogatory term for people with mental disabilities to describe a committee. Similar tensions arose when AS VP Ama Monkah accused Meza-Roa of misogyny after he was the only board member to vote no on appointing Celia Major to the AS Activities Council, on which Monkah is the only female member. Meza-Roa denied these allegations of misogyny.
During the meeting, statements written by several AS employees who had worked with Meza-Roa were read by Levi Eckman, AS Vice President for Academic Affairs and Interim Senate Pro-Tempore.
One of the statements was from Nate Jo, AS assistant for internal committees.
According to Jo’s statement, Meza-Roa failed to attend or was late to many meetings for the AS Personnel Committee and the AS Management Council. He had also failed to update the charters for many committees, making it impossible for them to legally meet. Because of this, other AS board members had to update the charters instead, Jo said.
Jo also said Meza-Roa failed to post five office hours a week until the AS Board passed a policy that would reduce the pay of board members who didn’t post the required number of office hours. This statement was confirmed by other AS employees, including members of the AS board. Meza-Roa denied this accusation, saying he had posted his office hours before the policy was passed.
Another statement was written by AS Business Director Ally Palmer. In the statement, Palmer said Meza-Roa regularly canceled meetings and did not complete assigned projects.
“Genaro has displayed a lack of commitment, engagement and respect to myself and others by continually choosing to disregard his responsibilities and not following through on communications,” Palmer’s statement said. “It is my opinion that he does not have enough time to dedicate to being AS VP of Business and Operations.”
After the student senate voted and recommended impeachment for Meza-Roa at their first meeting on Monday, the senate wrote a statement that was emailed to all students Friday evening. It was read at the AS board meeting by Eckman.
“This type of behavior is unacceptable in any profession,” the statement read. “We believe the AS Board of Directors and the AS Student Senate should be held to the highest standard as we are the elected representatives of the student body.”
Board members urged Meza-Roa to resign before the final vote, but Meza-Roa refused, saying it would be “a sign of defeat”.
In an interview after the meeting, Meza-Roa accused the board of working as a hive mind. He said that 90 percent of what the board had said regarding his conduct was inaccurate and he was disappointed the board “would step so low.”
“I am looking forward to the next steps I'm going to take which is to keep this position and do what’s necessary,” Meza-Roa said in the interview. “I am going to speak with the student body and do a campaign to keep my position. It is up to the students now and I am actually happy about that.”
If the recall vote receives a majority vote by the student body, Meza-Roa will be removed from office and another special election will be held to fill the his position, Romo said.