ASLMU president faces impeachment hearing

Photo and Design Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Photo and Design Credit: Liana Bandziulis

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: ASLMU president faces impeachment hearing – Los Angeles Loyolan.

ASLMU Senate has accepted an impeachment complaint against ASLMU president and senior marketing major Bryan Ruiz submitted by Greek Council president and junior entrepreneurship major Lauren Coons on behalf of the Greek community. The Senate will move forward with a formal impeachment hearing next week.

During the regularly scheduled weekly Senate meeting, more than 100 students filled The Hill on the fourth floor of Malone Student Center to listen as Coons read the complaint. Coons detailed the multiple reasons why the Greek community felt Ruiz had violated his position, broken up into three separate grounds for impeachment.

The crux of the complaint concerned Ruiz’s attendance at an alleged Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) recruitment event held on campus. SAE is an unrecognized fraternity based off campus, as first reported in the Nov. 12 Loyolan article “Unofficial fraternity colonizes off campus.” Ruiz’s presidency of the organization became a point of contention last fall, though no action was taken beyond a Senate meeting discussion.

According to the complaint, an anonymous statement from a new member of one of LMU’s registered fraternities claimed that those participating in recruitment for SAE were taken to a Foley Annex classroom for an alumni night – and that Ruiz was in attendance. During that meeting, according to Coons’ statement, Ruiz was expected to be at the First Amendment Week (FAW) keynote speech, an event co-sponsored by the Loyolan and ASLMU.

“I think when I heard it, I couldn’t believe it,” said Greek Adviser and Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Development (SLD) Dan Faill of the allegations. “Because that’s blatantly violating University policies.”

ASLMU Adviser and Assistant Director of SLD Alexandra Froehlich also mentioned the conflict in an interview with the Loyolan, saying, “I was disappointed, because that [FAW speech] is definitely an event that we all should have been supporting.”

Coons also pointed out that the funds used to co-sponsor the speaker were from Ruiz’s discretionary budget, information she said she obtained from the Feb. 6 ASLMU Senate meeting minutes. Froehlich verified this, saying, “[The money] came out of Bryan’s budget.”

The complaint accuses Ruiz of “conduct that violates the mission of ASLMU or the University,” identified in the ASLMU bylaws as grounds for impeachment. Froehlich said before the hearing that this charge could indeed be called an infraction of Ruiz’s position.

Ruiz, a member and former president of SAE, addressed the accusation preemptively in a statement about the impeachment complaint that was released on ASLMU’s Facebook page at approximately noon on Tuesday, then later taken down and reposted on Ruiz’s personal Facebook page. In the statement, Ruiz claimed that he was no longer SAE president at the time of the alumni night, saying, “The planning of the SAE event was an executive decision under the newly instilled president, [former SAE Vice President and senior accounting major] Nick Mecham.”

Though both Froehlich and Faill talked in interviews about SAE’s alleged illicit recruitment practices, including early bids, none of these issues beyond the alumni night were referenced in the complaint.

According to the ASLMU bylaws, any undergraduate student can file an impeachment complaint against a member of ASLMU. The complaint must be presented to the Senate with a list of possible witnesses, as well as a description of potential transgressions and the grounds for impeachment.

Senate must approve an impeachment complaint before it moves to the hearing stage. Despite his status as a member of SAE, Senator and sophomore accounting major Roy Dilekoglu was the first to motion to approve the complaint.

“I wasn’t surprised,” said sophomore psychology major and Speaker of the Senate Ceci Rangel-Garcia of Dilekoglu’s motion. “Because as Senate, we are here to hear any student concerns. It’s our job to hear everything, and that’s what the next meeting will be. He’s been a senator for two years, so he knows our regulations.”

The Senate motioned to commence impeachment proceedings before adjourning yesterday’s meeting. The impeachment hearing will be held during the next Senate meeting, during which the senators will hear testimony from witnesses called both by ASLMU and from a list crafted by Greek Council. As Speaker of the Senate, Rangel-Garcia will act as chair of the hearing.

“Everybody really needs to separate themselves from being really close with Bryan,” Rangel-Garcia said of any potential tension or bias between senators and Ruiz. “We just are really stressing to be as objective as possible. … We all respect each other, and we respect each others’ decisions.”

Two days before the meeting, in an interview with the Loyolan, Froehlich indicated that there were other “wheels in motion” that might’ve had an impact on the impeawchment efforts. Though she indicated that said wheels were not other impeachment or resignation efforts, she did indicate that they were “possibly” removal efforts. However, these efforts seemingly did not come to pass.

Ruiz declined to comment for this story any further beyond his statement. Mecham also declined to comment, either personally or on behalf of SAE.

Greek Life preparing impeachment complaint against ASLMU president

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Greek Life preparing impeachment complaint against ASLMU president – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Information is currently being compiled for the purpose of filing an impeachment complaint against current ASLMU President Bryan Ruiz, according to Greek Council President Lauren Coons.

Coons said that the decision was made in the last 10 days, and the complaint will be made on behalf of everyone in Greek Life. She referred to Ruiz’s presidency of the off-campus chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), colonized last semester, as the reasoning behind the complaint.

“SAE has been on Greek Life’s radar for a long time,” Coons said.

Members of Pi Beta Phi sorority were informed of the potential complaint during their chapter meeting on Sunday, Chapter President Ellen Zirkelbach said. According to Zirkelbach, the chapter’s Greek Council delegate, junior business administration major Deanna Walker, also sent out an email to members with more information on the complaint.

Though she couldn’t place an exact time frame for the filing of the complaint, Coons said it would likely be filed sometime in the next two weeks. However, Zirkelbach said that according to Walker’s email, Greek Council’s executive board would be attending this Wednesday’s ASLMU Senate meeting to file the complaint.

According to the ASLMU bylaws, an impeachment complaint can be filed by any undergraduate student. The complaint must be presented to the Senate with a list of possible witnesses, as well as “a description of the alleged improper conduct and the grounds for impeachment.” Should the Senate motion to commence the impeachment proceedings, a hearing would be held during the next weekly Senate meeting “to determine the validity of the complaint.”

A statement was released on ASLMU’s Facebook page at approximately noon today that was signed by Ruiz. In the statement, Ruiz preemptively responded to two issues he deemed likely to be brought up by the Greek community’s impeachment complaint. He also said that he had stepped down from his position as SAE president – former Vice President Nick Mecham has been named the new president. Ruiz also encouraged attendance at tomorrow’s Senate meeting.

The statement was soon pulled down – screenshots of the post can be found in the images of this story. Ruiz clarified with the Loyolan that the post was taken down because it was his personal opinion, not the opinion of ASLMU as an organization, and therefore would be reposting the statement on his personal Facebook page. At approximately 10:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Ruiz  slightly edited the statement and posted it to his personal Facebook page. Ruiz declined to comment any further beyond his statement.

The ASLMU bylaws can be found on the organization’s website. ASLMU Senate’s weekly meeting is held in the Hill on the fourth floor of Malone every Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.

Bryan Ruiz, ASLMU President

Ruiz, ASLMU stay true to goals

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Ruiz, ASLMU stay true to goals – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Bryan Ruiz, ASLMU President

Photo Credit: Bryan Ruiz

The Friday before the new academic year began in earnest, ASLMU President Bryan Ruiz professed his excitement about the upcoming First Convo, co-sponsored by Mane Entertainment.

“At First Convo this year, expect something you’ve never seen before to kick off this 101st year,” the senior management major said in an interview with the Loyolan. “Expect something new and fresh. We’re kicking it up one notch with all of our events.”

Ruiz’s enthusiasm wasn’t reserved for First Convo; whether he was talking about ASLMU’s open-door policy, its new focus on transparency or all the student government’s goals for LMU at 101, the president was eager for the new year to begin.

Fast forward to First Convo on Tuesday, Aug. 28 and the “new and fresh” element, it turned out, was a live lion on campus. While many students celebrated the decision (“LMU at 101! There was a real lion on campus today. Hurra[h] for senior year!” senior entrepreneurship major Michelle Figueroa tweeted from what appeared to be her account), there were murmurs across campus of concern for the lion’s safety, as well as frustration over the expense of this event. The Aug. 30 Loyolan’s Letter to the Editor from Associate Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Nina M. Lozano-Reich went so far as to call for a public apology for the lion’s appearance.

In an open letter to the LMU community, Ruiz spoke for ASLMU about First Convo and said, “As student leaders, we had intentional conversations about both positive and negative outcomes of bringing a lion to campus. … Although we believe we did our due diligence to research the best possible organization to accomplish our vision, we also realize that our actions have offended members of the LMU community, and for that we are regretful.”

Despite the controversy, Ruiz still called it a “very successful event” when speaking with the Loyolan.

First Convo was set to be the catalyst in the Ruiz administration’s push for “quality over quantity” in event planning, a theme stressed not only since the student body’s return, but also back in the election season. Since the controversy, Ruiz admitted that his administration is “adjusting” its event planning strategy going forward.

“We’re always adjusting. Nothing’s perfect, and we’re all learners every day,” he said. “At ASLMU, we’re going to keep adjusting our events to cater to our student body.”

Programming goals aside, Ruiz and his vice president, senior sociology major Vince Caserio, are focusing on two other major goals during LMU’s 101st year.

“[Vince] and I are really friendly and extroverted guys,” Ruiz said in reference to their open-door policy. “We [want to] make sure that everybody knows that ASLMU is home for everyone. … I think what’s most effective is face-to-face [interaction], actually being there.”

Caserio also spoke of increasing communication with the administration. According to the vice president, ASLMU’s plan is to meet with faculty groups every month.

“We know they want the students’ best interest as well,” Caserio said. “We just want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.”

Ruiz and Caserio also stressed a need for greater transparency as one of their goals, citing as evidence the student body’s anger at not being informed of the reasoning behind the decision to terminate the De Colores service trips last semester.

“I think students felt like they really didn’t have a voice,” Ruiz said. “So, Vinnie and I want to make sure students do have a voice in things.”

However, Ruiz also urged looking forward at future issues, rather than looking back at incidents like De Colores and the controversial introduction of parking fees. “I would be lying to tell you that I could change anything. It’s more of an informational piece. … It’s [about] informing students, ‘This is what happened; that wasn’t under my era, but this is what’s happening. I want to make sure you’re up to date with everything.’”

The executive team spoke of feeling ready to leap into the new academic year with the support of what Speaker of the Senate Cecilia Rangel-Garcia described as a “positive and excited” ASLMU staff.

“This year, there aren’t that many returners,” the sophomore psychology major said about the Senate in particular. “It’s a different dynamic. I really appreciate the enthusiasm that everybody has.”

Ruiz echoed her sentiments, indicating an infectious energy in ASLMU’s ranks as they face a year of new challenges and a currently unclear LMU at 101.

“This ASLMU team, I feel, is [going to] set a new structure and foundation for future administrations,” Ruiz said. “What’s going on here is something special.”