Associated Students Inc. President Genesis Jara spoke to senators about professionalism after negative comments were recorded during a break in last week’s senate meeting.
The break was taken to give Vice President Leen Almadhi time to pray. The former CSULB Muslim Student Association vice president was born to Syrian parents and follows Islam, which includes prayer five times per day.
According to ASI communications manager James Ahumada, the senate passed a revision in their working rules stating that they will observe a mandatory recess every meeting at 5 p.m. to allow Muslim members of the senate to pray without missing content in the meeting.
The comments, which were caught by the microphones left on in the senate chamber during the Facebook live stream, included choppy audio of statements from Senator at-large Melissa Mejia stating, “I want to clarify some things here. It says that … And now she’s doing it at 5:20. We need some consistency from her… the only thing we had left was …” The only thing left on the agenda after the break were senator reports.
The senate chambers are equipped with microphones for each senator, so all members can be heard and recorded clearly.
“I just ask that you refrain from any type of personal slander,” Jara said. “Not only is it a reflection of yourself, it’s a reflection of this board and it’s a reflection of all of us as an organization.”
The break occurred right after voting on whether or not to vacate Senator At-Large Aaron Jordan from his senator at-large position for missing four meetings, as previously reported by the Daily 49er.
During the break recording, Mejia said that the length of the hearing time “wasted student funds” and that “we’re going to be wasting a whole bunch of time if we’re doing this every meeting.”
The hearing was mandatory, as the ASI Senate Bylaws state, “The proposed removal of any Senator will be placed on the agenda of a regularly scheduled Senate meeting for deliberation and action.”
Jara took time during the public comment portion of the meeting to address the comments.
“I’ve been very disheartened by the way Vice President Almadhi has been spoken to,” Jara said. “These meetings have been live streamed and, just so you’re aware, during the breaks people can hear what you’re discussing. Last meeting there were some discussions that took place and Vice President Almadhi was a topic of some of those discussions.”
LBSU alumnus Jose Espinoza commented on the live stream, “You guys should watch what you are saying because your microphone is still on and everyone can still hear you.”
Over the mic, viewers could hear Jordan questioning Almadhi’s claim that she hadn’t received an email from Jordan during the summer regarding his financial insecurity.
During the hearing, Jordan said that he was unable to attend meetings due to financial insecurities that arose after losing his Cal Grant, a form of financial aid for undergraduate students.
“I don’t understand how she didn’t get my other emails though,” Jordan said. “If it fails to send, it would send you a receipt.”
According to university policy, absences can only be excused due to severe illness, death, injury, religious reasons, government obligations and university-sanctioned activities.
Senators discussed Jordan’s eviction from his position for about an hour of their meeting, which usually lasts two hours in total.
“I guess now we’re going to have to deal with this next week too. It’s unnecessary,” Mejia said. “It makes people feel uncomfortable. It makes the relationship on the board weird.”
Jara pointed out that Almadhi was elected to her position during a campus-wide vote, and that Almadhi had been involved with the Senate for three years, longer than any other member on the board.
“We will continue to uphold the bylaws,” Jara said. “As long as senators or any student leader in general fulfills our minimum requirements, there will be no need to experience the same thing we had to experience last week.”