The following is the opinion of the Emerald’s Editorial Board and not Emerald Media Group as a whole. The Emerald Editorial Board exists to provide the newsroom a voice on prominent campus issues. It operates separately from the objective work of Emerald reporters, giving the organization a platform to create and continue a dialogue on campus.
The board’s members include Michael Tobin, editor-in-chief; Donny Morrison, managing editor; Joanna Mann, opinion editor; Danny Latoni, podcast editor; and Melanie Henshaw, video editor.
This year is off to a rough start for ASUO — and student government officials aren’t doing themselves any favors by not answering questions about the abrupt resignation of ASUO Vice President Montse Mendez.
Mendez announced her resignation in mid-September in a letter linked in her Instagram biography. The letter stated that ASUO President Sabinna Pierre “created a hostile work environment” and that an “internal mistake” she described as administrative caused a rift between her and Pierre. Mendez said Pierre went so far as to call Mendez’s mistake a “crime.”
Pierre’s unwillingness to answer questions about Mendez’s resignation as well as the nature of any “crime” committed, is a disservice to students who deserve to know the details behind a high-profile resignation that happened before the school year even started. The old adage goes that the cover-up is worse than the crime, but Pierre’s lack of transparency may just turn the phrase on its head: the quietness is worse than the “crime.”
After Mendez announced her resignation, Emerald reporters and editors tried to contact Pierre and schedule an in-person or over-the-phone interview, but instead Pierre sent the Emerald a statement that said little about the circumstances that led to Mendez’s resignation.
“The aforementioned conflicts were an internal issue so as to protect and maintain the privacy and reputation of our former Vice President,” Pierre said in the statement. “As a team, we did our very best to resolve this issue internally and it will remain as such. We are dedicated to upholding the ASUO values and governance documents.”
Pierre said the ASUO Executive is “committed to transparency” when discussing Mendez’s resignation.
“ASUO Executive is committed to transparency and open communication and in regards to this matter, we feel that email and social media may not be the appropriate channels of discussion. We are willing to address concerns anyone may have one on one.”
But despite the language in her statement, Pierre did not respond to numerous requests from the Emerald for an in-person or over-the-phone interview after issuing the statement.
The Emerald Editorial Board agrees that transparency and in-person conversations are necessary when it comes to discussing Mendez’s resignation. The Emerald Editorial Board calls on Pierre to act on her commitment to transparency. As a student government organization that controls a budget of $17 million, Pierre and ASUO officials owe students an explanation as to what led to Mendez’s resignation and to clear the air about any “crime” that might have been committed.