Rosella Luna was ratified as the new ASO Vice President of Finance, replacing Mathew Schwimmer who resigned.
Several student senators expressed their opposition during the confirmation hearing. Personal attacks against Luna were made and the meeting was called to order multiple times in attempt to keep the discussion civil. After all viewpoints were heard, Luna was voted in 14-5 with one abstention.
Luna said she did not want to engage in the personal back and forth.
“It was a little awkward,” she said. “I thought some people threw some needless personal attacks, but I can’t get involved in that. Now that I have this position, I just want to do a good job.”
Senator Steve Whiting spoke out against Luna, who opposed him at his own ratification. Whiting is pursuing false allegation charges against Luna and said that on the day he was being voted in, she wrongly accused him of sexual harassment. Whiting said he was mortified by her comment and believes it was defamation to his character. He also said that she did not go through the proper channels and that saying that at a public meeting was uncalled for.
“You cannot falsely allege something as serious as sexual harassment or sexual misconduct of any sort and think that there won’t be any consequences,” Whiting said. “And to me, it seems like she’s being rewarded.”
Whiting said ASO President Sayaka Ridley and Luna are close friends. Whiting ran against Ridley for ASO President at the end of the spring semester and said that after he lost, she told him she did not want him in the ASO.
“I believe that it was in an attempt to keep me out of the ASO, which is what the ASO President told me at the end of the semester when she won the election,” Whiting said. “She told me personally.”
Whiting is currently waiting for a response on his case.
“I hope that the administration, or whoever takes care of the case, can connect the dots that it’s interesting that this person did that and now they’re being promoted to an executive position,” he said.
Veteran Senator Charlie Millar said his opposition to the replacement was not personal.
“I have no grudge against this person,” he said. “She’s doing her best. For me it was mainly about qualifications. I didn’t see the candidate show qualities that stand above everyone else and there are other people in that room who have shown qualities that stand out.”
Schwimmer said that Luna was not the most qualified for the position, but that the position is not a difficult one to do.
“I think she’s capable of doing my job,” he said. “In all honesty, most of the people at Southwestern are capable of doing it.”
Ridley defended her decision to appoint Luna.
“I think she’s a very hard worker, very organized and I think she’s going to do a great job,” she said. “What some people don’t understand about the ASO is that this is a learning experience. No one is going to come in here knowing everything from the start.”
Ridley said she welcomed the dissention and lively debate.
“I’m proud of the senators,” she said. “I respect the senators who speak up when they have opposing views.”
Although the VP of Finance cannot make any unilateral decisions over how funds are spent, Millar pointed out how influential the position can be.
“The position is very important,” he said. “The VP oversees and manages a huge amount of money.”
Now that Luna has the post, she said she wants to shift her focus from the confirmation hearing to the job at hand.
“I have a lot of ideas,” she said. “One of my main goals is to use our finances to help low income students succeed, because I am one of them, so I can relate. We have the funds, we should use them to help the students.
Schwimmer said his acceptance to UC Merced for the spring 2015 semester is his reason for stepping down. His acceptance was the main factor, but he said he resigned earlier than he had to.
“Another one that inspired me to resign earlier than the end of the semester is I thought that I’d have more power as an exec and I really didn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t able to do some of the things I was hoping to.”
Schwimmer said that his goal for the semester was to allocate funds to the Academic Success Center, but it was not achieved.
Schwimmer previously had issues with Ridley after she came to his work last semester and asked him to step down. He said that their tenure together was rocky immediately following the incident.
“There was animosity there,” he said. “And maybe a little awkwardness still. She wanted to win and she did. And she kind of did what she needed to do to do that.”
He said that for the most part he and Ridley learned to get along, and the duration of his time in the position was a learning experience.
“We agreed to disagree on a lot of things,” he said. “She’s very financially conservative and I’m extraordinarily liberal when it comes to financial matters. Yeah, we had giant differences of opinion, but that really didn’t come into play too much.”
Schwimmer said the semester’s obstacle was the fact that the executives as well as their advisors were new. He said they could have performed better with experience. While he said he would do things differently if he were to go for a position at UC Merced, he did not regret his time in the SWC ASO.
“I’m glad I got to be a very different opinion in the group,” he said.
Whiting said he will continue to pursue his charges against Luna because he felt that the attack was personal and potentially damaging to his reputation.
“Its bigger than just my situation, it goes into a cultural thing,” he said. “I know that they say the statistics for false allegations of actual sexual assault are so small that they can be written off as error, but I’m that small infinitesimal percentage of somebody that alleged something on me.”
Correction: A previous version of this story referred to the ASO Veteran Senator as David Millar. His name is Charlie Millar. The Sun apologizes for this error.