Armenta refuses to step down as ASI president
March 20, 2008 2:17 PM
The current elected president of SF State’s Associated Students, Inc., Isidro Armenta, has been deemed by his colleagues and the administration as ineligible and barred from office.
But Armenta is refusing to step down, and university police were called to the regularly scheduled ASI board meeting for the second week in a row.
“I am the duly elected student body president at San Francisco State University,” said Armenta in a written statement. “Unfortunately, SFSU President Corrigan and Vice President of Student Affairs, J.E. Saffold, have attempted to illegally end my term prematurely.”
At issue is whether Armenta has accrued more units than the 150 allowed under CSU Executive Order 969 to participate in student government.
Armenta contends that only units he earned from SF State should be considered. He wants 14 units from non-SF State classes to be exempt, which would make him eligible to remain student president.
Armenta’s seat is now filled by Claudia Mercado, previously the board’s vice president of internal affairs. As second in command, Mercado was automatically appointed to the office of president when the determination was made that Armenta was ineligible.
Wednesday’s meeting was called to order with both Armenta and Mercado yelling over each other to be heard.
“Ms. VP of Internal Affairs, You are out of order! I am the duly elected president,” Armenta said, raising his voice to be heard.
Mercado successfully motioned to close the public session for an undisclosed reason over Armenta’s objections. The audience was cleared and the board met behind closed doors for several minutes before all members filed out of the room, leaving Armenta in the room alone with two university police officers.
The officers were already in the audience before the meeting began, and one officer had spoken briefly with Armenta before the meeting was called to session.
Ultimately, the meeting was adjourned without addressing any agenda items. Several board members offered their apologies to the audience and expressed frustration toward the disruption.
Chris Oropeza, vice president of university affairs, said that several student groups were in the audience to request funding for letter-writing campaigns and bus transportation to rally against the proposed budget cuts to the California State University system.
“Because of all this,” Oropeza said, "that’s not happening.”
Joicy Serrano, ethnic studies representative for ASI, expressed similar frustrations.
“He’s interrupting a meeting that needs to happen to get student groups their funding,” Serrano said, adding that she felt Armenta’s motives were selfish.
But Armenta said the greater issue is student representation.
“When I started I spoke an oath to represent all students,” he said. “I intend to fulfill it.”
Armenta said he intends to continue attending meetings until his term is up in early May. He attributes the police presence to psychological intimidation.
“They want me to remove myself, but I’m not going to do it,” he said.
Armenta was prepared to be arrested on Wednesday. He said he had emptied his pockets of everything but his identification.
At last week’s ASI board meeting, Armenta attempted to participate as chair, but a university police officer was called to remove him.
“I did leave on my own volition, but I was forced,” he said. He considered the incident “an abuse of authority.”
Armenta received a letter on Feb. 20 from Saffold notifying him that he was no longer eligible to serve in student government as an undergraduate.
Saffold’s letter cited the CSU policy stating that undergraduates who have completed more than 150 units are not allowed to serve in student government.
According to Saffold’s letter, the University Registrar calculates Armenta’s cumulative unit total at 154 units earned and 18 units in progress.
Armenta sent a letter to Corrigan asking that he be exempt from the requirement. Corrigan responded by letter that he did not find any extraordinary circumstances that would allow him to waive the policy for Armenta.
Corrigan said he was “deeply disappointed” that Armenta would not be able to continue his service and called his leadership “impressive.” Ultimately, however, he stressed that he supported the intent of the policy.
“Students who have earned more than 150 credit hours must focus on graduating, rather than serving in student government,” Corrigan wrote.
Armenta was admitted to SF State as a first-time freshman in fall of 2003.
But Armenta said he is being unfairly penalized and some of the units he has accrued should not be counted toward the eligibility requirement.
Specifically, he takes exception to the inclusion of four units of credit from a student leadership seminar at CSU Monterey Bay’s Panetta Institute.
The week-long summer seminar, entitled Education for Leadership in Public Service, is offered by invitation to members of student government.
Those four units could make the difference between Armenta being able to complete his term and being escorted out of student government meetings by campus police.
Armenta had planned to run for president of the ASI Board of Directors again this semester.
Armenta also wants units from community college classes he took in high school to be exempt from his cumulative total.
He said he took the initiative to do the extra work even though it would not count toward his degree in business marketing.
“I didn’t know it would come back to kick me in the behind,” he said.
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