Rudy Marquez speaks out at ASWC Senate meeting

Nathan Tolfa

Rudy Marquez left dance practice early on Monday, March 5, in order to appear at that night’s ASWC Senate meeting to voice his frustrations. Marquez felt, and still feels — as of this writing — that Senate should have included him in their Administrative Committee’s discussion of the Program Board constitution. He made this clear in a tweet he put out that night during the meeting, writing, “I don’t understand why Senate is discussing this without contacting me when I took the initiative to bring up my concern to the table in the first place? This is exactly the miscommunication I had a problem with.”

Marquez was forced to resign from Program Board after they told him he could not be a Whittfest Chair unless he remained on Program Board as well. Marquez argued that the Program Board constitution did not specify that he must be Program Board member in order to be a Whittfest Chair, but he alleges that Program Board gave him an ultimatum: either work for both Program Board and Whittfest, or work for neither. 

The Program Board constitution does include a specific section, “Section X: Whittfest Chairs,” which gives a job description for Whittfest Chair but does not state, explicitly, that Whittfest Chairs must be Program Board Chairs as well. However, Whittfest is now a program that is officially run under Program Board, meaning that the Whittfest chair is a chair on Program Board.

So, while it is not stated explicitly, it is an implicite requirementment to being a Whittfest Chair. However,  nowhere in the Program Board constitution does it state in writing that Whittfest Chair must be a Program Board Chair. Marquez hinged his arguement largely on this absence.

Marquez claims that he has had difficulty discussing his dismissal with administration, and that his ousting and subsequent difficulties contacting certain administrators is an example of racial discrimination on campus. The Quaker Campus asked Program Board to comment on allegations that their organization exhibits discriminatory practices against students of color. Program Board E-Board memeber Elizabeth Wirtz responded via email, writing, “Program Board is proud of the diversity of our team. We believe it reflects the strong diversity of the Whittier College Community and is part of what makes our organization so successful.”

Marquez spoke his grievances at the Senate Meeting on Feb. 12, prompting Senate’s Administrative Committee to review the Program Board constituion at their Administrative Committee meeting on Feb. 27. “Administrative is in charge of the administrative part [of ASWC’s job],” said fourth-year Yvan Monreal, Vice-President of ASWC Senate. “So what we do is we go over any questions to any of the governing documents in the Senate, the constitution, the bylaws, etc. as well as any other pertinent administrative question.” Administrative Committee gets into the actual weeds of reading governing documents. They look at a situation based solely on how it relates to what is written, so while their meetings are open to the public, they base their judgement off the text.

“We did decide amongst Administrative Committee,” said Monreal, “that had [Marquez] sat in, although [the meeting] was open . . . [his input] wouldn’t have compromised our decision because his input is his input and the writing is the writing . . . I’m not sure what else he could have let us know. Apart from the fact that it wasn’t right or that he was upset with it, because we do not come to any definitive conclusions on which we could make a change.”

Administrative Committee does not draw conclusions or take action, but if they determine that a case requires action, they may recommend it to Advocacy Committee, who will then pursue means of change. In the case of Rudy Marquez, Administrative Committee found that Program Board did follow their own constitution in what they asked of Marquez. But they also found Article 6, Section 3 of the Program Board constitution, which states, “Chairs are expected to attend and promote all Program Board events,” to be an extreme requirement. “[That] is a bit unrealistic,” said Monreal, “a college student shouldn’t be expected to promote and attend every single event for an organization given illnesses or anything of the like.” Marquez is a bit frustrated with how Senate has handled this situation.

“I was under the impression,” said Marquez, “that the only reason why the Senate knew about the constitutional issues [was] me . . . and the fact that they were apparently talking about my situation [without me] was just a little concerning.”

Marquez said he was frustrated because he felt as though Senate was excluding him from conversations about an issue he raised to them. However, he spoke about his issue during public voice, making his issue public knowledge and tying his name, publically, to the issue. ASWC also announced that Program Board’s constitution will be discussed, in a tweet that paraphrased Monreal during a Senate meeting on Feb. 26. However, the tweet does not mention the date Administrative Committee will be meeting, reading, “Administrative, VP Monreal: Will be reviewing the governing documents of 

@WCProgramBoard to ensure no more inconsistencies. We offer this to governing bodies too. At the very least, we will be requiring governing bodies to upload their constitutions to the Senate OrgSync page.”

Marquez expressed frustration with the way ASWC has been operating. “I think [the March 5] meeting showed a lot of misguidance,” said Marquez. “I feel like [Senate doesn’t] have someone helping them out or the support needed because it’s all just students, and a lot of Senators are new. A lot of [them] haven’t had experience with Senate before . . . If they have advisors . . .  I think they would do their job better.”

ASWC is currently re-examining its relationship to advisors. “We are discussing the current role of our advisors and how [their role] can be improved,” said Monreal, specifying that Senate intends to discuss the role of advisors at an upcoming Executive Board meeting.

While Monreal is unconvinced that Marquez’ presence would have altered the committee’s ruling, he does regret not telling Marquez about Senate’s ruling in private. “[Going] straight to the public platform without having informed him, I think, was wrong,” said Monreal. Monreal also clarified that while Marquez was not personally invited to the administrative meeting, neither was anyone from Program Board’s cabinet.

Both Monreal and Marquez spoke about the importance of students using their voices, and being unafraid to speak up at public voice.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up,” said Marquez. “I know it’s probably tiring to hear my complaints but . . . if you have a problem, this is your place to voice your concerns.”

Monreal spoke to a similar sentiment. “I don’t want to discourage people from coming to public voice,” he said. “[but] it is a bit nerve-wracking, so I do want to encourage students to come to us individually . . . we are an organization, but we’re people first and foremost and we are here for you.”