In their January 24 general assembly meeting, the Associated Student Government of Colorado Mesa University heard Vice President Gabby Gile’s report of the investigation into the grievance filed by Languages, Literature and Mass Communication Senator Richard Nguyen against The Criterion. Gile stated she will not be passing this investigation along to the justices for further action.
Gile acknowledged that based upon Nguyen’s wording, there was a reasonable expectation that editors of The Criterion could be fearful of financial retribution; however, she also stated that since Nguyen took no official action, there is no reason to further continue the investigation.
Gile affirmed the viewpoint stated in ASG Resolution 17-03 that ASG has the right to critique student media. Her report stated that pursuing any punitive action against Nguyen would silence his freedom of speech to critique student media. Though Nguyen was not exhaustive in his evaluation of The Criterion, he called himself a regular reader, which would therefore make his judgment more than arbitrary, according to Gile.
In response to the debate over what constitutes “fear of financial retribution,” which was at the heart of the grievance investigation, Gile asked Senator Jeff Vela to argue on behalf of removing this language from the ASG Constitution since it causes unnecessary confusion.
“It’s hard to evaluate fear itself,” Gile said after her investigation report. “And especially from a legal standpoint, it’s very difficult to evaluate emotions.”
The specific language to replace this part of the constitution will be discussed at a later meeting.
ASG also discussed the related issue of Joint Resolution 17-03, which reaffirms ASG’s right to critique, but not censor, student organizations. President Ben Linzey presented the bill to the senate body, and said that despite his efforts to reach out to The Criterion editors, neither Editor in Chief Alec Williams nor other editors commented upon the resolution.
“No matter what your opinion is, you have the right to speak,” Vela said, defending both the rights of senators and other organizations.
Senator Jacob Kernc suggested tabling the resolution until the next week following a scheduled interview between The Criterion editors and Linzey. His motion was met with opposition from several senators, who argued that editors already had the chance to speak up, considering Linzey attended their Monday night meeting and sent two emails to editors inviting them to comment on the resolution.
With no other points of discussion, the resolution moved to a roll call vote, where it passed unanimously, with two abstentions from Senators Cerise and Kernc.
The majority of the bills for the ASG’s January 24 meeting agenda concerned changes to their constitution. After significant confusion and edits made to the first bill, Director of External Affairs Chrystina Meador suggested tabling the bills until a relevant committee could further edit and refine the bills.
Linzey suggested that senators interested in the bill writing process stay after the meeting to discuss the bills and make appropriate edits and changes before they are voted upon next week.
Vela made a motion to table all four bills pertaining to ASG constitution changes. After some opposition, the senate voted to override the opposition and consider the bills next week.
In the only club-allocation bill of the night, ASG quickly approved an allocation of $1000 from the transportation budget to send five students from the Mesa Theatre Tech Society to a theatre technology conference in Fort Lauderdale. After a recommendation from Senator Lauren Mason, the bill was approved unanimously.
ASG Resolution 17-04, which proposed changing the general assembly meeting time to 6:30 p.m., failed in an 13-11 vote, leaving the meeting time at 7:00 p.m. for the rest of the semester.
To fill the vacancy left by Senator Amber DuBois, who had to resign due to a time conflict, ASG appointed freshman Godwill Onyango to the position of computer science, mathematics and statistics senator. Onyango, a student from Kenya, reached out to Linzey over the summer about a position on the senate before he came to CMU. At this time, however, the senate was full. Onyango was approved unanimously.
At the end of the meeting, Minority Senator Shelby Cerise resigned her position in order to allow her to focus more fully on her position as Cultural Diversity Board Coordinator.