ASI votes to hold re-election and disqualify president-elect

Associated Students Inc. (ASI) held a special meeting on Friday, May 22, 2020, to determine the outcome of the ASI presidential election. (Zaeem Shaikh/The Collegian)

The Associated Student Inc. (ASI) reached a decision to hold a new election and to disqualify President-elect Ruby Muñiz from participating. 

On April 9, the student court ruled that Muñiz had violated the ASI code of ethics as she promised gift cards in exchange for proof of votes in her favor. The court ruled she also violated its code of conduct for falsifying her involvement in the creation of the expectant mother parking program.

In a special meeting held on Wednesday, April 15, the senate approved the recommendations of the court that Muñiz be disqualified for those violations. 

An appeal from Muñiz was submitted on Monday, April 20 and was presented to Dean of Students Carolyn Coon, who acted as a designee for university president Dr. Joseph I. Castro. Coon submitted her response to Muñiz’s appeal of her disqualification on May 11.

In her response she states that ASI should hold another election and allow Muñiz to participate due to issues of miscommunication on the rules of the election. 

“What is clear is that there certainly could have been better communication among everyone involved in the process,” Coon wrote in her statement. “The result of this not happening is being in a position where we have a process that has been tainted.”

The ASI further discussed this decision in a special meeting held on May 22 wherein the three candidates were allowed to make statements before ASI made its decision. 

Muñiz took the floor to voice that she felt that the entire process was unfair and was treated unprofessionally. 

“This process has been handled wrong and I personally have been treated unfairly and the decisions due to this process are actionable by blank failure of leadership in this organization,” Muñiz said. “I was elected Fresno State’s ASI president-elect and if today you all determined that my incentive is actionable, if you overturn the student election or deny me the right to run again, you will deny Fresno State students and myself our constitutional due process.“

In the meeting the senate discussed three options of what process to follow in holding a new election. 

The final vote resulted in a 10-1 decision, as ASI accepted Coon’s decision in part. The vote allowed for a new election to take place, but it disallows Muñiz from participating as a candidate. 

The new election will be between presidential candidates Naila Estrada and Elizabeth Rocha Zuñiga.

Despite being pleased by the decision, Zuñiga had some concerns about the upcoming election.

“Students who voted in this election will not be able to vote if they have already graduated, or are no longer enrolled for the fall semester due to Covid-19 or other personal reasons; so, this election will be from a different pool of students than those who participated in Spring 2020,” Zuniga said. “Additionally, whoever gets elected, this transition will be difficult.”

She said she looks forward to investing her time in persisting what Students for Students stands for: affordability, awareness, accessibility, inclusivity and involvement at the center of her service.

Estrada agreed with the decision made by ASI because she believed both her and Zuñiga ran fair elections. 

“I believe the senate made the right decision on giving us another election, because Elizabeth and I worked hard and played fairly since the beginning,” Estrada said. “We never gave up and continued to fight for the students. I agree with the decisions of the student court and of the senate, because they are setting a good example of how future elections should be. Despite what happened during the ASI election I hope students continue to speak up whenever they see something wrong and participate in these elections so that they too can make a change.”

According to a timeline from ASI, the election is scheduled for Sept. 28-30 and will be finalized on Oct. 21. 

The Executive Vice President will assume presidential duties on June 1 until a new president is elected.

Timeline for Presidential Re-election 

June 1 – Election dates approved by Senate (Sept. 28 – 30)

June 1 – EVP assumes Presidential duties until President is elected 

Aug. 26 – Personnel Committee to appoint students to serve on Student Court and Election Commission 

Sept. 2 – Senate to approve appointments by Personnel Committee 

Sept. 9, 16, 23 – Election Commission meetings 

Sept. 10-30 – Campaign period 

Sept. 28-30 – Elections online via VoteNet

Sept. 28-Oct. 7 – Student Court meetings, if needed 

Sept. 30 – Results tallied by League of Women Voters and announced at 2 p.m. by the election commissioner

Oct. 21 – Election results finalized per Election Code (21 days after results) 

Oct. 21 – President-elect takes office

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