Greek Council president speaks out

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Greek Council president speaks out – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Before she walked into the Feb. 20 ASLMU Senate meeting, Greek Council President Lauren Coons was not spending her time rehearsing the impeachment complaint against then-ASLMU President Bryan Ruiz she would be submitting. Instead, the junior entrepreneurship major was in class.

“Trying to sit through class, knowing that I would be making this huge movement, this splash in the community … I was nervous,” Coons said of the time prior to the hearing. “I still can’t believe that I did it, to be honest.”

“It,” as first reported by the Loyolan online on Feb. 17 (“Greek Life preparing impeachment complaint against ASLMU president”), was the submission of the first impeachment complaint filed against a sitting ASLMU president in at least 15 years, according to Director of Student Leadership and Development (SLD) Andrea Niemi.

When Coons’ class ended and she entered the meeting, she found herself speaking to an audience of over 100 students, all collected to watch history being made.

“You don’t speak in front of 100-plus people every day,” Coons said of her anxiety in the moment. “Nor do you go against the current every day.”

The genesis of the complaint

After being elected to the presidency of Greek Council in December, Coons spent much of her time and energy post-recruitment season researching the events of an alleged Feb. 5 on-campus meeting of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), the off-campus, unrecognized fraternity of which Ruiz was formerly the president and is currently a member. According to Coons’ complaint, the meeting was an SAE alumni night held in a Foley Annex classroom. Sanctions received due to this meeting ultimately led to Ruiz’s removal by the University, according to a post on Ruiz’s personal blog on Tuesday.

According to Coons, rumors of the meeting first surfaced at a Greek leadership summit. As chapter presidents expressed frustration that issues with SAE were not resolved when they first surfaced last fall (as reported in the Nov. 12 Loyolan article “Unofficial fraternity colonizes off-campus”), Coons said she felt “a little bit” of a personal obligation as Greek Council president to take charge of the process.

“I think the presidents took it personally that nothing had been done, and that SAE chose not to listen,” Coons said. “I had full support from them from the beginning. So this was not something just coming from me. … I made sure I was representing the Greek community.”

Despite rumors to the contrary, Coons said the complaint was entirely student-motivated, with no interference from the University. “I know there’s been a lot of speculation and some wisecracks made about the administration and puppeteers,” she said. “But I wrote [the complaint] myself.”

‘It seemed to deeply impact her’

All this preparation led Coons to stand in front of the Senate to present the eight-page complaint. Rather than merely read the text, Coons said she aimed to “engage” the students through an emotional presentation. This emotion led to a moment where Coons began to cry.”

“My initial reaction to her emotion was certainly, from a student leadership standpoint, to see how passionate she was about what she was speaking about,” Niemi said of Coons’ tears. “It seemed to deeply impact her.”

Greek Life Program Coordinator Dan Faill agreed. “Yes, she got emotional,” he said to the Loyolan after the meeting. “However, given the level of work and investment she had with the matter, I am proud of how well she did.”

“It was a long week. A lot of work went into it,” Coons said. “I think part of it was stress coming out finally.”

A student body divided

After the meeting concluded, Coons’ complaint quickly and sharply divided LMU’s student body, as comments on both ASLMU’s and the Loyolan’s Facebook pages quickly escalated into full-scale debates about the validity of the charges

“It sucks,” Coons said. “We’re a very small community, and we shouldn’t be so divided. I hate that it came off as the Greek community versus ASLMU.”

Still, she noted, “It’s interesting to see how passionate students get. … Students have a voice. Clearly, they do. As much as it sucks that they’re divided, it’s kind of cool to see that happen, to see how students react and get involved with this stuff. They’re passionate.”

‘Power struggle’?

However, one of Coons’ regrets about the division in the student body is how the saga has been perceived as a fight over power. “I think this got heated really quickly, and I kind of forgot, too, that we are students and we are one community,” she said. “I wish it wasn’t depicted as such a power struggle or a battle against these two communities, because we’re one community.”

One person who firmly believes that it was a battle is former ASLMU Senator and sophomore finance major Roy Dilekoglu. “It’s one big power struggle. They like to argue that ‘one in four people are Greek life.’ Well, three in four people aren’t Greek life,” he said. “[My] perspective … is that it has nothing to do with ASLMU. It’s just the power.”

However, Faill doesn’t believe that Coons had power in mind. “With Lauren, this has never been about power, even when she first brought it up,” Faill said. “This is and has always been about integrity and doing the right thing.”

Looking forward, looking back

The day after the meeting, Ruiz was removed from office. Because of this, the impeachment hearing Coons petitioned for was never held.

“I was a little angry, just because of how much work I put in,” Coons said of the University’s decision. “[But] it also was bittersweet. It was a lot of work, and for Bryan’s sake, that would have been terrible to drag it out for another three weeks with spring break. And on my end, it was a lot of work that I didn’t have to do.”

Ultimately, Coons said, it was time to move on. “I just kind of let it go. Book’s done. Chapter’s done,” she said.

While Ruiz is no longer president, SAE remains active off campus, something that Niemi said is still an issue for Greek Life. “My understanding is that there … are others that share the sentiment from an organizational standpoint,” she said. “And I can imagine that Greek Life will continue to have that as a subject of discussion internally.”

“SAE as an organization has some work to do. And we as an LMU Greek community hold our organizations to a high standard,” Coons said. She did allow for the possibility of SAE returning to campus during a future expansion process, however.

Looking back, Coons said that while she does have some regrets as to how things proceeded, she remains steadfast that her impeachment complaint was valid and glad she went through with the process.

“I’d do it differently,” Coons said. “I’m not sure how, but there are definitely changes that I would make.”

She then added, “But I would do it again.”

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Caserio to assume role of ASLMU president

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan and co-written with Allison Croley. For original, please refer to: Caserio to assume role of ASLMU president – Los Angeles Loyolan.

As senior marketing major Bryan Ruiz’s era as ASLMU president ends, the LMU student body will have to look to former ASLMU Vice President and senior sociology major Vinnie Caserio, the new ASLMU president, as ASLMU pushes forward.

“There will be a lot of people with a lot of questions,” said Dan Faill, assistant director of Student Leadership and Development (SLD) and Greek Life adviser. “And my sincere hope is that Vinnie will be up to the task of conducting himself and [ASLMU] to the best of his ability.”

One of Caserio’s first tasks will be to refocus ASLMU as the voice of LMU’s student body. The impeachment complaint and subsequent unrelated removal of Ruiz has brought dispute not only between members of the organizations involved, but between other students as well. Status updates on both the ASLMU and Loyolan Facebook pages quickly filled with comments ranging from students arguing the validity of the impeachment complaint to whether the University should have removed Ruiz.

Senior political science major Sarah Palacios, ASLMU’s attorney general, told the Loyolan that Caserio’s ability to bring students together will be vital during this period of transition. “Vinnie was elected for a reason. He has this strength to unite people. It’s unparalleled,” she said.

Caserio’s time to unite is short, however. According to the ASLMU website, campaigns for the 2013-14 election are already undergoing approval, and platforms will be posted this Thursday, Feb. 28. Elections will be held from March 19-21, and results will be posted at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 21. Though the ASLMU president and vice president don’t officially transition until commencement, according to Director of SLD Andrea Niemi, this still only leaves Caserio with a few weeks before elections to seize the spotlight.

Still, according to Assistant Director of SLD and ASLMU Adviser Alexandra Froehlich, Caserio will make the most of the time he has. “One thing I’ve learned about Vinnie this entire year is that he will step up to the plate and try everything,” Froelich said.

Palacios was optimistic, saying, “[This] is about moving forward and about what Vinnie will continue to do.”

ASLMU Treasurer and junior mathematics major Anna Keathley agreed, saying, “Vinnie has a spirit that lights up a room, and Vinnie is the perfect person to support ASLMU and the rest of the student body through this process.”

The spring semester of ASLMU’s schedule is notable for March’s Collegefest, the annual spring concert that has in the past brought acts like The Bravery and Gym Class Heroes to LMU. Though ASLMU may be transitioning leaders as Collegefest rapidly approaches, Froehlich said she has faith the planning would proceed properly.

“One thing I’ve learned about ASLMU is while I’d love to pretend that the president and vice president do everything, that’s not the case,” Froehlich said. “Collegefest will still happen.”

Though a change in leadership at a crucial time can be intimidating, members of ASLMU have faith that things will progress as they should.“We’re a team, and we look forward to providing the students with great memories,” Palacios said of ASLMU going forward. “That’s really what we’re looking forward to.”

“You know, we might lose people here and there, I won’t lie,” Froehlich admitted. “But for the most part, they are an amazing group of people. They will keep going.”

Former ASLMU president ‘no longer eligible’

Graphic Credit: Stephanie Schiller

Graphic Credit: Stephanie Schiller

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Former ASLMU president ‘no longer eligible’ – Los Angeles Loyolan.

[UPDATED: In a statement released on his personal blog this morning, senior marketing major Bryan Ruiz stated that the Judicial Affairs issue that removed him from his role as ASLMU president was due to sanctions received stemming from an on-campus Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) meeting. This story has been updated to reflect his statement.]

Senior marketing major and former ASLMU president Bryan Ruiz was deemed “no longer eligible” to continue as head of the student body because of a Judicial Affairs issue, multiple sources confirmed last week.

According to a statement posted on Ruiz’s personal blog, the issue was related to sanctions received after a Feb. 5 SAE meeting on campus – a meeting brought to public light in junior entrepreneurship major and Greek Council President Lauren Coons’ impeachment complaint against Ruiz.

A letter released Thursday evening on the ASLMU Facebook page announced that Ruiz was no longer serving in his position and would be replaced by vice president Vinnie Caserio, in accordance with the ASLMU bylaws.

Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Development (SLD) and ASLMU Adviser Alexandra Froehlich told the Loyolan on Monday that there were “possibly” removal efforts in motion internally that were unrelated to the Greek Council’s impeachment complaint. ASLMU Attorney General and senior political science major Sarah Palacios confirmed to the Loyolan that these removal efforts were the same as the Judicial Affairs issue that resulted in Ruiz’s removal from office.

However, official notification of Ruiz’s removal was not sent from the University to the ASLMU management team until Thursday afternoon, according to Director of Student Leadership and Development (SLD) Andrea Niemi. The management team – made up of Caserio, Rangel-Garcia, Palacios and junior mathematics major and ASLMU Treasurer Anna Keathley – then informed the rest of ASLMU.

“It was certainly an emotional day for ASLMU,” said Niemi of the notification. “To have notice that the person the student body had elected as president would no longer be serving as president certainly was emotional, and they had to work through all of that and figure out how they would continue working for the student body.”

Though certain members had knowledge of Ruiz’s potential ineligibility ahead of time – including Palacios and former ASLMU senator and sophomore finance major Roy Dilekoglu – nothing was finalized until Thursday, according to Niemi and Palacios.

Because Ruiz is no longer president, the Senate impeachment hearing reported in the Feb. 21 Loyolan article “ASLMU president faces impeachment hearing” will not take place.

Several sources, including Palacios, Rangel-Garcia and Keathley, stressed that both Greek Life and ASLMU had nothing to do with this removal, but that it was a University decision.

Dilekoglu, whose resignation of his position in ASLMU senate was reported by the Loyolan online on Friday (“ASLMU Senator Dilekoglu resigns”), characterized the University’s treatment of Ruiz as similar to that of a criminal.

“At LMU, where they feed you these pillars of this ‘Catholic institution,’ this ‘Catholic education,’ this ‘holistic service and education,’ ‘being men and women for others,’ but then you see all this stuff going on and you have to question, ‘Where are we?’” Dilekoglu said.

Caserio, who served as Ruiz’s vice president, assumes the presidency mere weeks before ASLMU’s next elections. In an interview with the Loyolan last Monday, Froehlich called Caserio “ready and willing” to take on the presidency.

According to the statement on ASLMU’s Facebook on Thursday, Caserio will present a vice presidential nominee for approval at next Wednesday’s weekly Senate meeting.

ASLMU Senator Dilekoglu resigns

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Photo Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: ASLMU Senator Dilekoglu resigns – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Former ASLMU senator Roy Dilekoglu has resigned his position, Director of Student Leadership and Development Andrea Niemi confirmed today.

A sophomore finance major who once told the Loyolan that ASLMU was “what made me like LMU,” Dilekoglu was the only returning senator this year besides sophomore psychology major and Speaker of the Senate Ceci Rangel-Garcia.

Dilekoglu’s resignation comes on the heels of last night’s announcement from ASLMU that senior marketing major Bryan Ruiz would not be continuing as president.

“There are a lot of different elements that come into it,” Dilekoglu explained of his decision to resign. “The main thing is … the way they treated my friend and president, Bryan Ruiz.”

Dilekoglu described the University’s treatment of Ruiz as leaving a “bad taste” in his mouth.

“My goal was always to be president,” he said. “Since freshman year, that was my goal: to be president of ASLMU. … If that’s my goal and that’s where I want to be, why would I want to do that? Why would I want to continue [after seeing that]?”

Though Dilekoglu is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), the same off-campus fraternity of which Ruiz is a member and was president of last semester, he said that his resignation has nothing to do with his personal relationship with Ruiz.

“It could have been anyone,” he said. “It was the way that person was treated, after doing everything for the University, but they treated him like a criminal.”

He is the second senator to resign this year, after junior finance major Michael Curran left his post in January.

Ruiz ‘no longer eligible’ to serve as ASLMU president, Caserio assumes role

bryanvinnie

Photo Credit: Abbey Nelson

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Ruiz ‘no longer eligible’ to serve as ASLMU president, Caserio assumes role – Los Angeles Loyolan.

A statement released at approximately 9:24 p.m. on the ASLMU Facebook page announced that senior marketing major Bryan Ruiz is no longer eligible to serve as the ASLMU president. According to sophomore psychology major and Speaker of the Senate Ceci Rangel-Garcia and senior political science major and Attorney General Sarah Palacios, Ruiz was deemed no longer eligible for the ASLMU presidency because of a judicial affairs issue.

Director of Student Leadership and Development Andrea Niemi clarified that Ruiz did not resign his post. This was confirmed by sophomore finance major Roy Dilekoglu, a former ASLMU senator who resigned Friday.

Effective immediately, senior sociology major Vinnie Caserio will take his place as ASLMU president, in accordance with the ASLMU bylaws.

An impeachment complaint was brought forth by junior entrepreneurship major and Greek Council President Lauren Coons on behalf of the Greek community at Wednesday’s ASLMU Senate meeting. As reported in the Feb. 21 Loyolan article “ASLMU president faces impeachment hearing,” the Senate accepted the complaint and was prepared to hold an impeachment hearing next Wednesday. Because Ruiz is no longer president, the hearing will not take place.

Caserio, who served as Ruiz’s vice president, assumes the presidency mere weeks before ASLMU’s next elections. In an interview with the Loyolan last Monday, Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Development (SLD) and ASLMU Adviser Alexandra Froehlich called Caserio “ready and willing” to take on the presidency.

“One thing I’ve learned about Vinnie this entire year is that he will step up to the plate and try everything,” Froehlich said. “I know he’ll need some coaching along the way.”

In a similar interview on Monday, Assistant Director of SLD and Greek Adviser Dan Faill said he hoped Caserio would focus on “mending” the relationship between ASLMU and Greek Life, as well as to bring “integrity back to the office.”

At the beginning of the academic year, Caserio spoke to the Loyolan about his goals for his vice presidency. The Sept. 6 Loyolan article “Ruiz, ASLMU stay true to goals,” reported that both Caserio and Ruiz would strive for “greater transparency.”

“We just want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard,” he said.

In an interview for the same story, Ruiz called Caserio “the heart of ASLMU,” saying, “He’s very warm; he’s very extroverted.”

According to the statement on ASLMU’s Facebook on Thursday, Caserio will present a vice presidential nominee for approval at next Wednesday’s weekly Senate meeting.

Froehlich told the Loyolan on Monday that there were “possibly” removal efforts in motion internally that were unrelated to the Greek Council’s impeachment complaint. Froehlich said that Ruiz had not yet talked to Caserio about those efforts.

“At that point in time, based on the other wheels in motion, [he] wanted to tell Vinnie himself,” he said. “So I was allowing him the opportunity to do that.”

Calls to Caserio and Ruiz were not returned.