ASI board votes not to remove Union editor
May 8, 2011
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The motion to remove Kevin O’Brien as editor in chief of the Union Weekly failed at the Associated Students Inc. Student Media Board meeting Friday.
The motion failed with a vote of one to three and four abstentions.
The petition to oust O’Brien was turned in April 15.
The American Indian Student Council, Justice and Gender Education (JAGed) and others collected 1,182 signatures for the petition that asked O’Brien to resign, more than the 500 necessary.
On April 28, the board confirmed at least 500 of the signatures on the petition were from current Cal State Long Beach students.
Two articles published by ASI-funded publication started the controversy.
On March 14, the Union published a review by campus editor Noah Kelly of Cal State Long Beach’s annual Native American Pow Wow event, which some considered offensive and culturally insensitive. The article received attention from national news outlets.
The second article, “How to Get Laid: A Girls’ Guide for Guys” was printed last semester.
The petition read, in part: “As concerned students of Cal State University Long Beach we demand that Kevin
O’Brien resign from his position immediately for his failure to ensure that the campus student paper is inclusive for all students, for supporting the marginalization of minorities and women and failing to provide effective oversight of the operating procedure of the Union Weekly.”
ASI Executive Director Richard Haller addressed the board.
He said the petition dealt mostly with the content of the Union Weekly rather than O’Brien’s job performance as editor in chief. Haller noted both the CSU system-wide student disciplinary code and California Education Code Section 66301 as laws that protect free speech.
“I do legitimately fear, that if you were to proceed with a disciplinary action against [the editor in chief] by recalling him you would be subjecting or exposing Associated Students to legal challenges and court proceedings later on down the road,” Haller said.
The Media Board consists of eight voting members: the chair, Jaime Varela; Student-at-Large representative Sandie Reed; Student-at-Large representative Juan Sanchez; Director of Student Life & Development Jeff Klaus; Yearbook Editor in Chief Christina Esparza; KBeach General Manager John Trapper; O’Brien; and Senate Representative Ojaala Ahmad.
Ahmad, Esparza and Sanchez abstained from voting. O’Brien did not vote.