Matt Weir/The Collegian
The Personnel Committee of the Fresno State Associated Students, Inc. senate met Monday night to vote on allegations against ASI President Pedro Ramirez and two other members of the executive committee.
In the midst of repeated eruptions from an often out-of-control group of Ramirez supporters, the personnel committee made a decision to recommend that no action be taken against ASI Executive Vice President Selena Farnesi, who had been accused of violating the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act.
The committee asked for more time to look into allegations that Sanchez and ASI Vice President of Finance Cesar Sanchez had violated the university’s code of conduct.
The public comment session had quite a few participants on this evening. Former assembly candidate Michael Esswein, who sought to become the first openly gay candidate to represent the state’s 29th District, called the proceedings a “witch hunt” and a “coordinated attack” against Ramirez.
Jesus Mendoza, who said that he was “a former student of this university,” admitted that he had attended Fresno State as an illegal immigrant. He said that he was, among other things, very upset that Selena Farnesi had given her opinion on what “Aztlan” meant during the ASI presidential candidate debate last week.
The next speaker created quite a furor among the pro-Ramirez crowd. California State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly stated, “The reason that I drove three hours from Sacramento to come here was to address this issue; I’m the vice chairman of the higher education committee.”
Donnelly then told the personnel committee, “What’s at stake here is whether you’re going to codify illegal activity into law, or whether you’re going to stand up and say, ‘No, there are not two sets of rules.’ ”
“No man is higher than the law,” Donnelly said.
Several of the pro-Ramirez crowd began shouting, angered that a state assemblyman would appear at a hearing such as this. ASI Senator Stephen Chabolla, the personnel committee chair, called for order.
Gregg Imus, Donnelly’s Chief of Staff, spoke next. Identifying himself as a “U.S. Citizen,” Imus said that the federal government had “been derelict of duty,” concerning immigration, “and has passed the duty on to the states and to a college senate something that should be handled by our federal government.”
Imus said that he wanted the audience to know that he and Donnelly had driven to Fresno in their own private vehicle and on their own time.
The shouting began again, and Chabolla warned those in attendance that “if the public cannot remain quiet during someone’s public comment, we will call a recess.”
Two Ramirez supporters said that the senate should be concentrating on “making sure that all of the school’s toilet stalls have doors, not on Pedro.”
Shortly thereafter, the tumult began again and Chabolla called for a five-minute recess. After the committee reconvened, the executive officer reviews began, with Farnesi’s review being first. The committee found that Farnesi’s actions “were not detrimental to ASI, and we recommend that no action be taken at this time.”
Ramirez’s review was next. ASI Sen. Jaime Moncayo requested more time “to conduct interviews and to hear from our legal counsel.” The motion to provide the extension passed.
The last review was that of Sanchez. Chabolla said that due to scheduling conflicts, he and another committee member had not had enough time to conduct a full investigation, and he requested an extension.
“We want to make sure that we get this right,” Chabolla said.
From his seat in the third row, Sanchez suddenly stood up and stated, “The allegations are based off of anonymous complaints. Anonymous complaints! How is that credible?”
The committee then passed a motion to ask for more time to conduct the investigation of Sanchez’s alleged actions.
Outside of the meeting, two local TV news crews were interviewing Assemblyman Donnelly on camera. A wild, circuslike atmosphere ensued, with Ramirez’s supporters shouting and screaming in an attempt to interrupt Donnelly’s interview. At one point, a Ramirez supporter threatened to have a Donnelly supporter arrested, but the University Police Department kept the confrontation from escalating.