ASLMU Bylaws Invalidate Sanctions Against Diversity and Inclusion Senator, Executive Board Will Not Enforce

Monday, November 23, 2020

Photo: Gabriella Jeakle

ASLMU Bylaws Invalidate Sanctions Against Diversity and Inclusion Senator, Executive Board Will Not Enforce 

By Danica Creahan, Raven Yamamoto

Attorney General Leslie Sepulveda and the ASLMU executive branch will not be enforcing sanctions put in place against Diversity and Inclusion Senator Stephanie Martinez after a determination that the Judicial Board does not have the authority to levy such sanctions under the ASLMU Bylaws.

After voting unanimously to overturn Sen. Martinez’ impeachment on Nov. 3, the Judicial Board opted to sanction the senator for conduct discovered during her impeachment hearing that they found concerning, asserting that said conduct “placed her ability to fulfill her role as Senator for Diversity and Inclusion into question.” 


In the opinion they released on Nov. 4, the board listed a number of offenses of which they found Sen. Martinez guilty, including chronic absence from her compulsory office hours, an apparent lack of remorse for “any anti-LGBTQ+ or any antiundocumented immigrant sentiments,” and failure to address how she plans to serve LGBTQ+ and undocumented students in her role as a diversity and inclusion senator. 


The sanctions dictated that Martinez submit a public apology letter, reestablish and publicize her office hours, meet with LGBTQ+ Student Services Director and Chicano/Latino Student Services Director to discuss her goals moving forward as a Senator for Diversity and Inclusion, and submit a minimum 1,000-word project write-up to Speaker of the Senate Kyle Saavedra outlining ways she plans to serve LGBTQ+ and undocumented students.


These sanctions were deemed void per Article 7, Section 11 in the ASLMU Bylaws which reads, "appropriate sanction(s) shall be determined if the respondent is found to be responsible.” 

According to ASLMU Vice President Elsie Mares, the Judicial Board was informed that levying sanctions was not within their power prior to submitting their final decision. Chief Justice Nile Whitmore was unable to comment on the matter due to ASLMU Bylaws that prohibit him from discussing the deliberation process. 

In a statement regarding the invalidation of their sanctions, the Judicial Board urged Martinez to consider the sanctions recommended actions to “adequately fulfill her role as an ASLMU Diversity and Inclusion Senator” following her impeachment. 

The board also expressed their disagreement with their advisors’ interpretation of the Bylaws. 

“We understand that one interpretation of the Bylaws can be that we must either fully find someone responsible or not responsible, but the Judicial Board found that this is not the only interpretation of the Bylaws, and does not provide the most fair and equitable outcome. We believe that finding Senator Martinez responsible but not impeachable is reasonable in this context.”

The board affirmed in their statement that while they felt their interpretation was valid, they would not fault the executive branch should they choose not to enforce the sanctions. 

According to Speaker Saavedra, Sen. Martinez “did not attempt to comply” with the sanctions or their deadlines prior to them being repealed and was not aware that their legitimacy was being contested. 

“It infuriates me that after an 18-favor vote to impeach her, an appeal to Judicial, and sanctions assigned as a result of Judicial overturning the impeachment, [that] Stephanie still did not care to make amends with the LMU student community or show a shred of sympathy for the irreparable damage she has done to marginalized communities on our campus,” Speaker Saavedra said. 


According to Vice President Mares, the executive branch is not enforcing the sanctions based on their interpretation of the Bylaws. 


“In the view of our Attorney General and executive team, the Bylaws very clearly outline what is within the bounds of the Judicial Board’s authority,” said Vice President Mares. “These bounds do not include the authority to sanction a party that the Judicial Board finds not responsible. We found several aspects of the Judicial Board’s decision problematic and in violation of our interpretation of the Bylaws.”  


Vice President Mares says that ASLMU still encourages Sen. Martinez to comply with the sanctions. 


“We have highly encouraged her to still do them, but to this date she still hasn’t which we are really disappointed by,” she said.

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