Author of controversial A.S. letter not coming forward

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Encouraging individuals within Associated Students to come forward with any information regarding a letter distributed to several members of the senate before the March 15 meeting, Diana Medina told the group Tuesday it was unacceptable that nothing has been done to resolve the matter.

The letter, which consisted of a list of six statements, stated that Maria Rodriguez, Social and Behavioral Science I senator, was a better candidate choice for A.S. vice president than Medina, an upper division senator. On March 15, the day the letter surfaced, senators were voting on the recommended appointment of Medina as vice president.

“The fact that nobody says anything, (makes it seem) like it’s OK,” said Medina, junior political science major, while addressing the senate.

“Nothing is really being done to fix this,” Medina said in a private interview. “This is not OK. Everybody’s just waiting. There are people who know (who wrote the letter). It’s not fair (just) waiting for it to blow over. A person got very hurt in the process, (and) that didn’t have to happen.”

Medina’s comments to the senate came Tuesday after Timothy Belfield, former A.S. president, spoke during open forum.

“I see that no closure has come to this board regarding the identification of the author of the now infamous letter,” said Belfield, senior geography major. “How much time is being wasted pointing fingers, infighting and falsely accusing each other, when some of you know who the author is?”

During open forum of the March 29 A.S. meeting, Belfield addressed the need for the author of the letter to confess. He said if the author or authors of the letter do not come forward, he will expose them.

“You know what you did,” Belfield said before the A.S. senate on March 29. “You know how to fix it. The time has come for you to take responsibility for your actions. If you choose to ignore my words, then I will fix it by exposing your behavior publicly.”

Though Belfield said he has no tangible proof, he said he has speculations, as do other individuals within the organization, on who could have created the letter. But he also said nothing is being done to find proof of who wrote the letter and why the person may have written it.

This semester, according to Belfield, was going very smoothly within A.S. until the letter surfaced.

“The letter has created some controversy,” Belfield said. “Something has happened, and now people are talking about it.”

Despite people communicating more, Belfield said nothing is being done to clear up this matter regarding the letter.

“Nothing is being done,” Belfield said. “They want it to just disappear, to just go away. This needs closure for the organization and (for) students.”

Medina said she is frustrated that individuals in the senate are not doing anything to solve the problem.

The letter, which was provided to less than half of the senators prior to the meeting, made accusations that were unwarranted, Medina said.

“‘I always see Maria in the office during her office hours and I never see her just show up to an A.S. senate meeting and just take off,'” said a copy of the letter that was obtained by the Sundial. The letter was passed out to several senators prior to the March 15 A.S. meeting. “(Maria is always there for A.S. and Medina left the meeting last week).”

Explaining that every senator is allowed points of privilege during A.S. meetings to go to the restroom, meet with a professor or conduct whatever business they might have. She said the statement made in the letter was inappropriate. On one occassion, she did leave a meeting halfway through because she had to meet with a professor, but this is allowed, she said.

“(This was an) irrelevant reason for why I’m not qualified,” Medina said.

Another statement included in the letter questioned the number of outside commitments Medina has.

“‘Medina has many commitments to other areas outside of A.S. and I heard from Maria that after certain events are over next week she will sacrifice her commitments in order to do even more work for Associated Students,” the letter stated. “(Maria is always there for A.S. and Medina barely shows up and does nothing).”

Medina, who is involved in the A.S. senate and is president of her sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma, said she has no more commitments than the rest of the senators. The only other difference between she and many of the others is that she also holds a job. This is no reason to personally attack her, Medina said.

“Of all places, the A.S. is not the place for this to happen,” Medina said. “This is something for dirty politicians.”

According to Mario Lopez, Humanities I senator, nothing is being done to solve this matter, because A.S. members may feel afraid to speak up.

“By Tim (Belfield) speaking, it scared everyone,” Lopez said in response to Belfield’s address to the senate on March 29. “Everyone’s afraid of speaking because (they might be) out of code.”

Belfield spoke of the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act of 2000, which was distributed to senators at the beginning of their terms, and again at the March 29 meeting.

Rodriguez, senior psychology major, said there is still an uncomfortable feeling in the senate.

“Inside the office, people assumed it was me,” Rodriguez said. “As human beings, we assume right away. (There is a) weird way people look at you. I feel uncomfortable here.”

Many of the senators, according to Rodriguez, are not approaching her directly with questions regarding the letter.

During the March 15 senate meeting, three senators voted in favor of appointing Medina, and 12 abstained from the vote for a variety of reasons.

Rodriguez said she might have caused senate members to become confused when she spoke during the open forum on March 15. During the forum, she urged the senate to reconsider her for the vice presidential position. She said some senators may not have realized what they were voting on, or that Rodriguez was not being considered for the vote.

“I confused a lot of senators,” Rodriguez said. “I put them on the spot in a certain way because it confused them.”

Sylva Kouzouian, Graduate II senator and a graduate student in manufacturing systems engineering and management, said she was confused by Rodriguez’s speech during open forum, and that was the reason she abstained from voting.

Selene Salas, Humanities II senator and senior liberal studies and Chicano/a studies major, said she also abstained from voting.

“(I abstained because) I didn’t realize what we were voting (on) at that moment,” Salas said.

Stan Ilyashenko, Business Administration and Economics senator and junior economics major, said he abstained because he felt that if an individual wants to become vice president, he or she should talk to the senators. He said the senators should know whom they are voting for. He also said the issue with the letter has been blown out of proportion.

“We have social security (problems in this country),” said Ilyashenko, who is serving his second semester on the senate. “Who cares about the letter?”

Kouzouian also said the situation with the letter is not a huge problem.

“(It) shouldn’t be a big deal, because not much (time is) left in the semester,” said Kouzouian, who is in her first semester on A.S. “I’m kind of glad I didn’t get a letter.”

Even if there was confusion, Medina said there were a number of things the senators could have done in order to clear up any questions they had, besides abstaining from voting.

Medina, who has been in the senate for two years, said the senators could have asked questions during or before the meeting, and could have tabled the matter, which means postponing it to obtain more information.

According to Cara Keith, A.S. president, the agenda for each Tuesday’s meeting is posted the Thursday prior to the meeting, and in the case of the vice p
residential appointment, no one came to her with questions prior to the March 15 meeting.

“No one said anything,” said Keith, senior deaf studies major. “My na?ve mind said everything (was) fine.”

Keith said there were other measures the senators could have opted for.

“(They) could have postponed (the vote),” Keith said. “We’ve done it before (during) this semester.”

The discovery of the letter, and the fact that the majority of the senators abstained from voting, have affected her role in the senate, Keith said.

“It really hurt me when they turned down my candidate,” Keith said. “I need someone else (to help me), so I really needed this person. I want to do this job well, but I don’t feel I can do (that) if I’m doing two jobs.”

Medina and Rodriguez said they still find it difficult to trust fellow senate members.

“I don’t know who could have done it, (but) I wish someone would come to me and say, ‘Maria, here are the reasons I did this,'” Rodriguez said. “I know these people. I brought (many of) them into (the) senate (as their campaign manager). I didn’t want to bring anyone in to do this kind of stuff. I guess it is all based on trust, and I don’t know if I have that.”