SGA vice president dismisses gallery despite open meeting

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated throughout. 

Eight Student Government Association senators failed their performance reviews, according to leaked documents obtained by Hilltop Views. Four senators passed.

At the end of Thursday’s formal senate meeting, Vice President Jonathan Edwards asked the gallery to leave. However, sources close to the issue said that what was discussed after Edwards asked the audience to leave was on the agenda for the public.

An hour passed after Edwards told the gallery to leave. During that hour, performance reviews of the senators were presented by SGA Parliamentarian Faith Castillo and Edwards.

The performance reviews were supposed to be discussed during the public meeting, according to the official agenda.

Edwards knew that he could not dismiss the gallery. He was well aware of what was on the agenda, said an anonymous source close to the issue.

Hilltop Views has granted anonymity because the source felt like there would be retaliation from the head of the legislative branch who did not want a gallery present.

In a statement issued on Friday by Edwards, he said, “First off let me say that there was no intent on my part to deceive [fellow hilltoppers] or appear corrupt in any way. There were concerns brought to me last night, not related to the performance reviews, which I felt needed to be addressed immediately and as a result circumstances took precedence over protocol and for that I apologize. That was my mistake and I take full responsibility.”

Edwards also stated that he would never take retaliatory action against anyone who disagrees with him.

“I believe that it is important for an organization to have diversity and differences of opinion,” Edwards said in the statement.

The anonymous sources were upset at the lack of transparency. The performance review was meant to establish that the codes were lived up to, not to undermine anyone, one source close to SGA said.

“It wasn’t a matter of transparency or that SGA was trying to be sneaky or do things behind closed doors … It was really just a huge miscommunication between our parliamentarian and vice president,” Sen. Andrea Ojeda said.

The senators who failed the review are:

  • Lucas Boyd
  • Jamie Cardenas
  • David Isaac
  • Ruby Leon
  • Janelle Nacpil
  • Kennedy Namis
  • Dominick Namis
  • Andrea Ojeda

Sens. Ben Griffith, Jessica Guajardo, Greg Reck and Colton Towns passed the performance review.

The performance review is a part of the SGA Constitution. The review consists of a written exam that tests knowledge of the SGA constitution and codes; an activities evaluation measuring expected contributions; a peer review; and an executive board evaluation.

The highest score was a 17.8; the lowest was 11.612. To pass the review, a senator has to receive a minimum score of 16 out of 20 points.

“The performance reviews are supposed to hold everyone accountable, but the way the codes were written: simplified, really vague, really old, outdated … they were not a fair assessment of how we are doing,” Ojeda said.

Senators who failed the performance review are on probation and are required to attend every meeting and formal event until they retake the test.

The failing senators will meet with Edwards and Castillo on Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. A week later on Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. the senators will take a retest. A subsequent failing grade will result in dismissal from the organization. They would also be prohibited from running for SGA in the spring.

“This year we have a lot of great people working on a lot of great bills. This is the opposite of the direction we’re trying to take SGA in,” Ojeda said.