ASCWU President resigns following motion for recall election

Petition and months of publicly expressed concern spurs action


ASCWU Board of Directors. Photo courtesy of ASCWU Instagram

Katherine Camarata, Lead Editor

Former ASCWU President for the 2022-2023 year Rachael Medalia officially resigned from her position on Sept. 19.

A motion for a recall election was made by Senate Speaker and Interim Executive Vice President Brady Smith five days earlier on Sept. 14, that was met with a majority vote from the ASCWU board. 

Luis Reyes, former executive vice president, was appointed the new ASCWU president following Medalia’s letter of resignation.

Smith’s statement motioning for a recall said Medalia’s actions were, “limiting the students’ access to ASCWU, their student representatives, and excluding our student population, especially those who belong to traditionally underrepresented communities.”

A petition began circulating last spring to remove Medalia from office as the student body was concerned Medalia was “abusing her power,” according to Smith. The petition has at present garnered 426 signatures to impeach Medalia. 

The petition was started by alumna and former Student Senator Bianca Sanchez and read in part, “Staff members are aware of behavior and the reports against her [Medalia], but they have opted to not take action, allowing her without penalty or discouragement to harass colleagues and create hostile work environments in the office.” 

In the petition, Sanchez also outlined a scenario in which voices of marginalized identity groups were silenced.

In interviews last spring, Sanchez and Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) former President and current Wildcat Pantry Coordinator Jaeda Nelson described incidents of intimidation and disagreement with Medalia.

Sanchez said she quit her job on the Student Senate in June because she “didn’t feel comfortable working in that environment anymore.”

Sanchez later created the petition and protested Medalia’s presidency at ASCWU board meetings.

Sanchez also made a public statement at the final ASCWU Board meeting on June 6 that was shared on her Instagram account. In Sanchez’s statement, she said, “I am not a learning experience for you to do better. Your lack of accountability has shown the whole school that you are not the leader for them.”

Deleted comments and motion to recall

Rachael Medalia (right) resigned as ASCWU President while Luis Reyes (left) took over the position. Photos courtesy of the CWU website and Reyes’ LinkedIn profile

According to Senate Speaker and Interim Executive Vice President Smith, the petition was created too late in the school year for the Council of Probity to verify the signatures as would have been required. The Council of Probity, a student group appointed by the president to oversee activities or misconduct claims for ASCWU, will review the signatures in coming weeks once their first meeting is scheduled, according to Smith.

Smith said there are three ways to initiate a recall vote: through a student petition that must be verified by the Council of Probity, the student senate needs a majority vote or the ASCWU board needs a majority vote. 

Neither the Council of Probity nor the Student Senate were in session at the beginning of the school year, so the ASCWU board took matters into their own hands when Smith made the Sept. 14 statement.

According to Smith, after the ASCWU board posted new photos of their staff on Instagram on Sept. 9, students left comments asking about the status of the petition and why Medalia was still president. 

Smith said Medalia had access to the Instagram account information as is standard practice for the ASCWU president, and she was deleting comments on the post that were about the petition. At the time of the comments being deleted, Smith said Medalia was the only ASCWU member with access to the Instagram account until later that day.

Comments on the Instagram post currently read, “Why does ASCWU government continually silence the voices of students on campus?? Zero accountability,” and “If this account is funded by public money in anyway it is not in anyway shape or form ok to block or delete comments.”

Smith said Medalia’s actions went against their board values of increasing transparency “to the fullest extent.”

The Observer reached out to the rest of the ASCWU Board for comment and did not receive a response by the date of publication.

Looking ahead

In Smith’s Sept. 14 statement, he said he was not speaking from a place of “personal belief,” rather trying to accurately speak for the student body as a whole.

“It was a very hard thing to say and hard thing to do,” Smith said. “We had to take action and we wanted to take action because we wanted to listen to our students.”

The recall election was announced on Instagram and would have required the student body to vote on whether to recall Medalia’s presidency within two weeks. However, Medalia’s resignation negated the need for this.

Smith said the loss has been palpable, but ASCWU is adapting to the change.

“We’ve all been contributing to fill those gaps as much as we can,” Smith said. “Luis has done a really good job transitioning.”

Smith said the situation with Medalia was an overarching point of tension between the ASCWU board and the student body that is now on a path to being mended. 

“We couldn’t be effective student leaders, we couldn’t be accurate representations, we couldn’t fulfill our promises,” Smith said.

According to Smith, since Medalia’s resignation the ASCWU board has received more positive interaction from the student body and more willingness to share stories. 

“We lost our most important player as far as position wise, but in other terms we made up for that because the support and interaction from students has really recovered it,” Smith said.

Story has been updated for accuracy. The message intended for Rachael Medalia ended up staying in the draft folder by mistake. This situation has been addressed with Medalia by our staff, and the statement claiming we attempted to contact her has been removed.