ASUCR President, Mufida Assaf, along with only ⅚ of the Executive Cabinet, released an official statement at the beginning of the month condemning the injustice and bias that has occurred within the organization. The statement claims that there has been, and is currently, a division within the associated students that favors members who are also in the Kappa Sigma fraternity. This fraternity, however, is not and has never been officially affiliated with the UCR campus. The bias that these members have been allowed is unfair and has created an environment where the senate is unable to justly uphold their positions and make the best decisions for the campus community.
Despite Kappa Sigma being an unrecognized and unsanctioned organization, the fraternity still actively recruits students to join and is one of the largest Greek life groups at UCR. At the beginning of each school year, students are sent an email listing organizations that are not affiliated with the campus or that have been kicked off due to issues like hazing. This email is the only warning that most students see and typically fails to deter new recruits. Along with running an unofficial fraternity, the members of Kappa Sigma also have a history of joining and running for official positions in senate giving them more legitimacy and control over the campus.
The members of senate who are affiliated with Kappa Sigma then use their platform to create an environment in ASUCR that favors their decisions instead of what is best for the student body. Elections especially cause tension and division with candidates either campaigning on their own or doing so with the backing of Kappa Sigma. The last senate elections were met with unprofessional campaigning tactics that resulted in a series of spying and tattle-tailing. Strikes were given to the candidates if they were reported for doing something unallowed, like using a step stool to put up posters, resulting in one of the candidates, Lina Nguy for the VP of Finance, being disqualified without notice despite receiving more votes. The other candidate who won due to the disqualification is also a member of this unsanctioned fraternity.
More transparency is needed within the senate to combat these issues of injustice and bias. The statement that was released acknowledging that the recent election of the Associate Justice was unfair is a start. It appears that the Executive Cabinet is only now able to speak on these issues as the majority of the seats are held by women. Even so only ⅚ of the EC signed with statement and are advocating for change. The closed door elections referenced in the statement should also be done away with so that students and members of the community are aware of how these elected officials are upholding their positions. Other UC’s have open door policies that better uphold the democratic processes.
The UCR student body needs to be aware of the corruption within the senate so that they can put an end to the “boys club” that has been allowed to infiltrate campus politics. Attending senate meetings, reading the weekly ASUCR recap by The Highlander and voting during elections are all ways to get involved. These elected officials reflect UCR and should be questioned on their affiliations and motives for wanting to be a part of the senate. Greek life organizations can be dangerous and allowing one that is not sanctioned or affiliated with the school to take over the senate will only lead to more problems and unfavorable political tactics.