Associated Students election stirs controversy


Jesse Sutterley

Wesley Xia and Ashley Leung, both ASDVC members sit at the polling booth during the elections April 13.

Sean Ross, News editor

A flood of apparent election code violations during the April 13 and 14 Associated Students of Diablo Valley College General Election raised suspicions of mismanagement by both the Election Committee and the ASDVC faculty adviser.

The on campus polling place was frequently staffed by current ASDVC officers and election committee members instead of independent poll workers. This creates potential for significant conflict of interest. The election code says, “the Student Life Office shall be responsible for hiring and training election staff.”

ASDVC adviser Demetria Lawrence told the Inquirer that there is nothing explicitly prohibiting the Election Committee members from serving as poll workers, and that after a lengthy discussion the Election Committee voted to allow themselves to staff the polling station.

Additionally, campaign materials promoting candidates from the Integrated Alliance of DVC coalition were present throughout the polling place. This a clear violation of the election code; no campaigning may occur within 50 feet of the polling place.

Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that a member of the United Students of Diablo Valley College coalition, Daniel Pardo, was improperly removed from the ballot. Pardo and his coalition claim to not have been formally notified of his removal until the day of the election.

As far as Pardo and the rest of his coalition are aware, he had turned in all relevant documents to run for office by their respective deadlines. Indeed, when two members of the Election Committee working the polls – Yitong Chen and Committee chairman Xiaojun “Kokun” Yang — were questioned about Pardo’s absence from the ballot, they were unable to produce a concrete explanation.

When shown footage of the questioning, Wesley Xia, current ASDVC President and Election Committee member, explained that Pardo was dropped from the ballot due to a combination of two recent absences and a failure to sign a document indicating his affiliation as a member of his coalition. However, upon presenting that document to the Inquirer, it was found that Pardo did indeed sign the coalition charter. Xia said there was another form, part of the campaign packet, that Padro had not turned in, but would not disclose the precise contents of the form.

Additionally, Xia said Lawrence had a hand in that decision.

“Demetria, the ASDVC adviser, myself, and the election committee head, Kokun Xiaojun Yang, have discussed this back and forth; we double checked Daniel’s name was not on (the coalition form) when the deadline approached,” Xia said.

According to Pardo and ASDVC presidential candidate Conner Pope, both confronted Lawrence on the first day of the election upon hearing about Pardo’s removal from the ballot. During that meeting, Lawrence said that due to his recent absences, many people, including herself, were under the impression that Pardo quit ASDVC.

In an email to the Inquirer, Lawrence claimed that Pardo did not sign the Candidate Application Form, and that he “has since resigned from ASDVC.”

Pardo was absent from the two most recent general meetings without formally informing the board, due to two separate instances of illness, the most recent of which was an eye infection. His coalition was aware of his condition.

Quitting ASDVC requires submitting a formal letter of resignation. The ASDVC constitution says, “any Board member desiring to resign from the Board shall submit a resignation in writing to the ASDVC President, Secretary, and Advisor. All resignations must be declared at the next ASDVC Board meeting.” Pardo says he submitted no such letter, and is still on the ASDVC board of petitioners.

Pardo has also been quoted in a previous issue of the Inquirer speaking out against widespread absenteeism and apathy in ASDVC: “Everyone is either here because they care, or because they’re trying to build their resumé, and if they’re here to build their resumé they’re going to miss meetings.”

Secondly, in order to remove someone from the board of petitioners, a motion must be passed by a 2/3 vote during a regularly scheduled meeting. No such vote took place, according to meeting minutes. Even if it were to take place, ASDVC bylaws explicitly state that the number of unexcused absences required to have one’s membership revoked is three, not two.

Further, the faculty adviser, Lawrence, seems to be directly involved in the decision to remove Pardo from the ballot in violation of parliamentary procedure. Lawrence transferred to DVC as interim Student Life manager on Dec. 1, 2015, following a documented year of tense and sustained conflict between her and the Los Medanos College Associated Students, whom she advised for eight years.

Lawrence withheld funds from a student committee overseeing a diversity conference when she had neither the grounds nor authority to do so, according to Gary Walker-Roberts, former LMCAS president and current Contra Costa Community College District student representative.

Aaron Taggert, a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians, wrote in a parliamentary opinion that, “the apparent perspective of Demetria Lawrence, Student Life Office Coordinator, and through her the administration of Los Medanos College, is offensive. The district and its officers and agents do not have discretionary authority over LMCAS’s funds… The Attorney General has classified these funds as separate private funds so the restrictions and procedures common to the Community College System and other public funds do not apply.”

In a letter of complaint, former LMCAS president Brianna Klipp said Lawrence’s “blatantly rude and demeaning behavior towards LMC students” made students “feel unwelcome” and “scared to voice their opinions.”

“Shortly after becoming President of LMCAS, I filed a complaint that Lawrence was creating an uncomfortable environment at our AS meetings, excluding me from conversations regarding AS business, and for undermining AS business by being divisive,” said Walker-Roberts. “I am not the first student that experienced issues with Demetria, nor will I be the last.”

According to the election code, the deadline for filing a formal complaint has passed; the cutoff time was April 14 at 11:59pm.