A recall petition created by a CSUN senator is close to gathering enough signatures to remove the student body vice president, as the president has resigned.
The petition is less than 30 signatures away from going in front of the senate to be placed on a ballot as of Nov. 2.
Those who want to remove the current executive branch have two weeks to reach 318 signatures for the petition to move forward. It would then be sent to the CSUN senate, who would vote to put the petition on a ballot sent to the students.
The student body president, Isaac Hernandez gave his resignation letter at last week’s senate meeting.
“It’s been several months coming,” College of Liberal Arts senator and creator of the petition Miguel Soriano said. “It’s just a lot of different things that have culminated in the downfall of CSUN.”
Before the Unity ticket won the election, Soriano believed that regardless of the winner, CSUN would be in good hands. Now, he said he feels fed up with the executive branch since Unity took office.
“They haven’t done anything to address some of the behavior on part of certain employees in CSUN that were discriminatory towards other groups,” Soriano said. “The hostile workplace culture that has been built, so much so that we now see a record amount of resignations and vacancies in CSUN that we have never seen before.”
He also believes Hernandez and student body vice president Dyana Melchor have not been doing their jobs, compared to the previous executive branch.
“I look around CSUN and so many people are leaving because the current executive board is not willing to accommodate the things that they need to maintain a stable mental health space,” Soriano said.
The recently resigned justice in student government, Duaa Murtaza, left CSUN to show support for the petition that Soriano created.
“I was disenfranchised from things because unfortunately I wasn’t a sheep,” Murtaza said. “I would question things and would just be labeled as aggression or animosity which was simply just a difference in belief.
In her resignation letter, she wrote that she did not feel taken care of by the organization and decided to leave. She believes her mental health was tarnished particularly by the executive branch.
Murtaza said she felt unsafe in the hostile work environment and did not appreciate that her personal morals could be compromised. According to Murtaza, she saw favoritism and nepotism to newer justices, as she thought they could be swayed.
‘No government is perfect’
A hostile work environment is something that the executive branch agreed on, only they say that the hostility was coming from those who wanted to see the branch fall.
According to Hernandez and Melcher, they were not able to conduct their work in the office as the walls are thin on the third floor of the student union.
Hernandez had to use a white noise machine to muffle private conversations when he believed that members of the student government were eavesdropping. Melcher said that they played music in her office to muffle their conversations to outside listeners.
“The first time we ever came into CSUN, the first piece of advice that we got is that the walls are thin and people listen,” Hernandez said.
He said there were times where he’s brought someone into his office for a private conversation and the adviser was made aware afterward of a version of the conversation that Hernandez thinks was misconstrued by the listeners.
“Someone will come to me and it’s a private conversation and they wanted to verbalize a concern they had or they wanted advice. I closed the door and there would usually be some conversations and chatter, some laughter outside,” Hernandez said. “As soon as we close the door, we would notice that everyone would get quiet. In my head, CSUN has already purchased, in the past, white noise machines so we can play them so no one can overhear the conversations… But that’s not stopping people from putting their ears against the doors and listening, telling this person and then it just turns into a game of telephone.”
According to the executive branch, the white noise machines aren’t the most effective devices to mask a conversation because listeners would still be able to hear what was said through the muffled sounds.
The executive branch was aware of these conditions, but was not expecting a recall.
“[The recall] is baffling to me, because I don’t understand why this exists in the first place,” Hernandez said. “This is just as shocking to us as it is to our departments. The hostile work environment that has been used as the justification and the reasoning behind this petition makes no sense to me. No government is perfect. No body of individuals, no team is perfect. We’ve always taken a proactive approach in terms of trying to accommodate everyone, their feelings, their personalities, their work ethic, and it’s always been inclusive since day one.”
Hernandez said he feels the petition is extremely confusing as those who signed the recall did not describe what is in the petition.
“People in CSUN have jobs outside of CSUN. People in CSUN are also full time students in their academic life,” Hernandez said. “They’re dealing with a lot and when we do talk with them, they’re usually just checking in, how are you doing. And sometimes there’s moments where we’ll check in on someone and they instantly break down to us. It’s a call for help. And for us, it gives us more reason to be interactive with the departments.”
Recently, the CSUN chief of staff resigned but did not mention the executive branch as the fault of her resignation.
“We no longer have a chief of staff, as it was really hard to work in the environment within CSUN,” Melcher said. “I was sad to see her go, when you work in an environment like that you become very close friends with the people that you work with.”
Hernandez submitted a letter of resignation at the last senate meeting last Monday. His last day was on Friday.
“I am resigning due to personal circumstances that have impacted my studies and well-being. I am very appreciative of the opportunity I have had while at CSUN. I believe the campus has
substantially improved since my time here, and I have many recollections of students who
verbalized their support of my advocacy surrounding mental health. I will continue my efforts
and always cherish the sentiment.” Hernandez wrote in his resignation letter.