Media, concerned students attend
Matt Weir / The Collegian
After the legal status of Associated Student, Inc. President Pedro Ramirez was revealed by the Collegian on Tuesday, ASI held their bi-weekly meeting on Wednesday filled with media and spectators. A few misconceptions were addressed regarding Ramirez while both supporters and opponents attended the meeting.
Although the meeting discussion consisted of more than just the president’s undocumentation, it still received substantial attention.
Fresno State senior, Neil O’Brien, communicated his disapproval about the legal status of Ramirez, the fairness of the election that gave him the presidency and his acceptance to the university.
“There is a law breaker in that room,” said O’Brien about Ramirez after the meeting. “How is it that somebody who is illegal, who is not allowed to be in the country, is the [student] president of the university?” O’Brien asked.
“Pedro Ramirez did apply as an AB 540 student when he applied to Fresno State,” said University Vice President of Student Affairs Paul M. Oliaro during a Wednesday video interview with The Collegian. “He was admitted with those conditions, and as a result, he has the same opportunities, privileges and rights as any other student which includes being able to run for office.”
In addition, Oliaro said that Ramirez had no obligation to disclose his undocumented status.
Media organizations and other individuals said that Ramirez lied to the university. According to a statement Wednesday by Fresno State President John Welty, “[Ramirez] personally notified me and ASI advisers about his immigration status [after his election win], and volunteered to serve without pay as president.”
Selena Farnesi, ASI executive vice president, expressed her support for Ramirez in a statement Thursday but also wished he would have disclosed more during his campaign.
O’Brien said the reports on the news revealed that he had been “ratted.” In its article, The Fresno Bee stated the anonymous email was sent to several media outlets.
“The Fresno Bee contacted me first,” Pedro Ramirez said to The Collegian’s online reporters. “Then I contacted The Collegian before the Fresno Bee could air the piece because I wanted the students to get the breaking news first even though I heard that [The Collegian] had gotten reports earlier on.”
During an “Ask Pedro” video interview series in September, The Collegian encouraged students to submit questions for the recently elected ASI president to answer about his goals for the position. An anonymous request was received for the online reporter to question Ramirez about his legal status. Since no factual proof or any reason was given to justify asking such a question, The Collegian did not ask him.
“There could be several motives [for the question],” Ramirez said. “Maybe somebody was not as supportive of me, didn’t like me, [or] they wanted me out. Or it could be someone who knew about my position, my status and wanted to use me as an example to push the issue forward,” he said.
But President Welty supports Ramirez as ASI president.
“I commend [him] and other AB 540 students who are following state statute as they seek higher education.”
O’Brien questioned the result of the election that put Ramirez in office.
“We are talking about somebody that shouldn’t be running for president because he shouldn’t be here.”
“I haven’t broken any of the CSU’s laws,” Ramirez said in his defense. “I haven’t broken any of the ASI bylaws. I ran on a platform that students overwhelmingly supported. They elected…me not on my citizenship status.”
Other outlets have interviewed students that want Ramirez to be removed.
“If the students see that my qualifications should be based upon my citizenship and not my objectives and goals of what I can accomplish, then I would let them decide,” Pedro said.
“Numerous things have been legal in the past that are not ethical,” said Fresno State student Matt Ford. “Racism, genocide against Native Americans, genocide in Nazi Germany, torture apparently is legal now, none of these things are ethical, so I think we should start viewing these issues in an ethical light.”