ASUCSD Judicial Board Rules Against The Triton, Recommends Constitutional Clarifications

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Photo of the ASUCSD offices
Kristina Stahl / The Triton

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Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) Judicial Board ruled unanimously against The Triton on February 19, issuing a majority opinion that the closed session ASUCSD held at their January 15 meeting did not violate their constitution.

Ella Chen, editor-in-chief of The Triton, filed the grievance on February 3, stating that the rules governing closed sessions were applied too broadly when ASUCSD chose to move into closed session for a presentation titled “Student Mental Health,” given by University Centers Advisory Board Chair Joey Mendoza in his capacity as a student.

Soon after Mendoza gave the presentation, ASUCSD unanimously approved language that would pave the way for a student mental health fee referendum to be added to the election ballot in Spring Quarter 2020. In an editorial published by The Triton, the Editorial Board believed the information that may have swayed ASUCSD members to support the referendum should be public since the matter dealt with the allocation of student fees.

According to the ruling, ASUCSD did not violate the constitution due to the vague nature of the rules. This ambiguity allowed ASUCSD to move to closed session since, according to Mendoza’s testimony during the February 19 grievance hearing, the presentation he gave contained the names and departments of UC San Diego Health personnel. The information would then fall under ”matters of personnel” in Section 8 according to the Judicial Board’s interpretation.

Although the Judicial Board determined that the closed session rules were not violated, they conclude their ruling by recommending that ASUCSD define “matters of personnel” in the closed session rules.

“As today’s hearing only had to do with the accused violation of Section 8, we are bound by the words that are already in the existing constitution. We recommend that ASUCSD specify the term ‘matters of personnel’ in Section 8 of the constitution, basing it off the Brown Act and the ASUC’s constitution,” the majority opinion read.

According to Chen, The Triton wanted a more definitive interpretation of Section 8 from the Judicial Board. However, the newspaper agreed with their recommendation to ASUCSD to clarify what it defines as “matters of personnel.”

“We are hoping that ASUCSD amends Section 8 of their constitution to follow the Brown Act and ASUC’s constitution to more specifically outline what falls under ‘matters of personnel’ because the wording is vague and subject to arbitrary interpretation,” Chen told The Triton. Chen says that, as of now, The Triton has no plans for carrying out any further actions.

ASUCSD is not bound to act on the Judicial Board’s recommended changes. ASUCSD President Eleanor Grudin did not respond to requests for comment.

Samir Nomani is an Assistant News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him @samir_the_first.