My Final Words on ASLMU

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( ASLMU elections campaign photo) 

Well LMU, let’s just start with:  ’it’s been quite the year.’ When initially beginning this statement, I found myself in a writer’s block. How could I effectively communicate my story as well as clearly respond to the numerous Loyolan journalists and public comments? I take to heart and realize that the most important aspect of all the words written and spoken about me is to convey the truth in a manner that encircles all sides of the story. In the last few weeks, LMU students, alumni and faculty members have had conflicting views regarding my dismissal as ASLMU President. It is important for me to share this story aswell as be concious to the opinion and statements of those invovlved since as we know, there are always two sides. The decision to release this was not solely for myself, but for my love for ASLMU, the entire LMU community and most importantly, the students. 

Hopefully this story will allow students to understand my decisions and break any confusion people may have.

On the Bluff: Passion to serve the LMU Community

I have utilized my time on campus by studying Business Marketing, working within the Student Worker Program, serving two years on the ASLMU Senate, participating in Latino Student Union, SLEJ (Students for Labor and Economic Justice) and to bringing Sigma Alpha Epsilon to LMU students. As a student worker, my duties entailed setting up for multiple school events as well as cleaning it up - to even picking up the wasteful trash for this beautiful community. These past experiences led to my proudest accomplishment; in Spring 2012 my ultimate dream was fulfilled when I was elected to serve as LMU’s Student Body President. My time as ASLMU President has been eternally humbling and a time I will cherish for the rest of my life.

So, what is really going on?

To narrate this section, I’d like to refer to articles and statements released by the LA Loyolan and ASLMU as well as briefly deliver my stance on the matters.

The Loyolan officially published an article regarding the Greek Council’s motion to impeach me as ASLMU President on February 17th, 2013: “Greek  life preparing impeachment complaint against ASLMU president.” In response to the presumed allegations, I posted a statement via Facebook on February 19th, 2013. Click here for the full statement.

Greek Council and the Loyolan believed the motion set for my impeachment was the only issue at stake. However, to bring clarity to the situation, I was going through a judicial process with the university that stemmed from the incident at Foley Annex.

“ At the time of SAE’s ‘Alumni Night’, I had already stepped down from fraternity president and therefore was not aware of the SAE event taking place on campus. I was attending the Los Angeles Mayoral Debates. The SAE event being held in Foley Annex was not under my discretion. I was fully aware that the fraternity was not affiliated with the university and therefore would be violating university regulations. 

The planning of the SAE event was an executive decision under the newly instilled president, NickMecham. Having stepped down as President, I was unaware at the time of the event that it was being held on campus. I did, in fact, find out that it was being held in Foley Annex eventually and sought action to move the LMU men off-campus. As ASLMU president and as a person who upholds the values of men and women with and for others, I did, however, feel the obligation to take the blame for my fellow students who were being questioned by Public Safety and felt uneasy. I admit, it was a mistake on my part as I was ASLMU President; however I could not bear to see my fellow brothers take the fault.”
  (February 19th, 2013).

When taking responsibility for this event, I did not fathom that LMU students in a classroom, regardless of recognized or unrecognized group, would lead to the end of my presidency. However, in the next days I was notified by the administration of my sanctions for probation because of the Foley Annex event. The formal statement was released by ASLMU on Thursday, February 21st, 2013. I did have the option to appeal the disciplinary probation but I decided the best course of action was not to. Therefore, I accepted the decision for my removal as ASLMU President which is inherent in the probation assigned to me. Nevertheless, the public was unaware of my probation due to it being a private matter between myself and the university.

To not appeal the judicial board was one of the toughest decisions I have made in my life. My closest friends, relatives and ASLMU members advocated to the judicial appeals board because they believed in me and communicated to me directly with great transparency that the sanction was too severe for the circumstances. My heart and pride told me to fight both processes because in my eyes, I had done nothing wrong. I believe I have effectively executed the duties of ASLMU President to the best of my ability. But I took the probation because it was not worth the stress on myself and even more, my ASLMU family. Even more importantly, there are rules and policies at every institution that we must abide by. There always will be room to debate whether the sanction was appropriate - particularly the time left on my term and the ripple effects it left to my team.

At the end of the day, it was lose-lose situation. Even if I did win the judicial appeal process, and followed the allegations of impeachment - what would it have proven? The impeachment process would have divided the student body, instead of bringing us all together. It also would immerse students in my personal matters, and shift away from the real goals Vinnie and I originally set for ASLMU. Let us all just assume if I did win - it would have brought no reward to our campus.

In regards to Roy Dilekogleu’s resignation, it is tough to see a passionate Senator leave the organization. A man who truly believed in his duties and continually advocated for the students. ASLMU has lost one of its most experienced and passionate  Senator’s.

As an optimist, I am glad that students practiced there rights and voiced opinions at the Senate meeting. In my four years here, I have never seen more than five students at a Senate meeting. ASLMU Senator, David Tassone stated there were at least 150 students from all views present. Hopefully Senate can now be clearly known for students to use as a platform to voice their opinions. As a past Senator, it would have been wonderful for students to come together for the  past parking issues – or when De Colores was on the fence – for a good cause that brings the LMU community together.  In turn, I hope this year’s ASLMU Student Government Election’s will break previous records and have  a fifty percent voting rate, due to all the hard-work of ASLMU Election Chair, Catherine Ferraro.

ASLMU & Greek Council Relations

During my time as President, I collaborated with many organizations on-campus and preached an open-door policy. I had the privilege to meet with various presidents from all walks of LMU and formed close bonds between ASLMU and various departments on-campus. Particularly earlier in my term, I worked closely with former Greek Council Executive members to keep Greek Week Football as a main Greek Week event. Throughout the course of the year, ASLMU Student Reserve Board awarded roughly $34,000 to Greek Life events. Greek Council and ASLMU have had a supportive relationship while I was in term. However, I recommend in the future to have consistent communication throughout both terms. It is my hope in the near future that ASLMU hosts a monthly leadership round-table consisting of representatives of the all the main organizations.  

My ASLMU Team

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(ASLMU advance retreat)

ASLMU is not run by a few individuals, it is run by a team of students connected to one purpose – “empowers the voice of the students and actively promotes a vibrant campus life..”

Vinnie and I’s vision for ASLMU intersects with the talent from our Cabinet and Senate has and will continue to create an intangible foundation for greatness using every facet of ASLMU. This foundation has always been fueled by something one can never measure. If one word can describe the 2012-2013 ASLMU family - it is determination and strength fueled by passion. Passion sets us apart from the previous ASLMU administrations to define ASLMU for what it is and what we want to pursue

This years ASLMU team has set an immeasurable precedent for future teams. From the Lion that was brought by our amazing Director of Special Events, Sheila Koohpai; the first Zero Tolerance Week for Bias, Ignorance and Hate Week and Rally; to the memorable annual Christmas Tree Lighting that reached the highest capacity of students and community members. Abiding by the LMU mission statement, we incorporated the education of the whole person with our series of debate events with our nationally recognized ‘LMU Debate Team’, thanks to Director of Social Justice, Megan Attore. It is also been the first year we’ve had two Club Fests, hosted by Director of Campus Community, Lani Luo. Portraying the university’s philanthropic mission, Senator Eric Joseph De Lara and the team has introduced their ‘Service with Senate’ series, offering students each month applicable methods to give back to the community.

It has definitely been an unforgettable year. By setting a record-breaking number of ASLMU committee and first-year Senator applications; and having dramatic spikes in SRB applicants and funding from the astounding hard-work of ASLMU Treasurer, Anna Keathley – is an uplifting fulfillment for us all to experience. Even more recently, there was the act of upholding the initial idea to collaborate with MANE Entertainment in awarding the Battle of the Bands winner the opening act at CollegeFest.  Altogether ASLMU consistently present high-quality events, each adding an innovative, distinct element.

To my partner and brother, Vincent Caeserio

Some of you might have heard this before, Vinnie and I have known each other since we were twelve years old. I still remember then, as I do now, Vinnie’s huge smile and compassion for others. He is the nicest guy I have ever met. Vinnie and I both went to Loyola High School, and chose LMU as our home as we both valued the Jesuit education. We had been talking about our presidency since our freshman year. I never thought that our dynamic duo would be separated but now that I am no longer president, I am so grateful and at ease that it is lies in the hands of Vinnie Caserio. He is somebody that loves unconditionally and has a smile that can brighten any room. He has the experience, confidence and heart to rally ASLMU through this bump in the road. At the end of the day, I am confident Vinnie will finish what we originally started. I wish him and the ASLMU family the best of luck. Vinnie you are the man buds! Love you my brother.

My hopes for the Future

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As I look across the room and think about my journey to this day, I realize how blessed I am to have met and been among so many inspiring and selfless people at LMU. A lot of people are responsible for ASLMU’s success and I am proud of the team Vinnie and I built. Overall, I have no regrets. The decisions I have made as ASLMU President and in my personal life make me the strong man I am today. With gradation around the corner, I can assertively say I have been a recipient of a truly, holistic education. I love LMU in its entirety; I am one young blessed man and could not ask for anything else! As I have reflected earlier, my wish for the ASLMU team is to stay true to each-other, stand-by our mission and continue their devotion to ASLMU and the LMU community. Finish strong and pursue all your goals – because no matter the circumstances, I will always support you all.

Lastly, I would like to share with you student-reactions from the last few weeks of events regarding the motion to my impeachment and the university’s decision to remove me as ASLMU President. Some of these people I have worked extremely close in ASLMU. The other reactions are student responses to the Loyolan articles.  Even if you are not mentioned here, I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has supported me through these last few weeks. I have received an infinite amount of support, and I could not imagine going through this without any them.

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“Ruiz has not harmed campus in any quantifiable way. He has neither sabotaged nor discriminated in his actions as ASLMU president while still being an engaged member of SAE. As a third-party observer, Greek Council’s actions seem self-serving and petty.” (Sierra Sands, Loyolan Assistant Opinion Editor published on Monday, February 25th - “Ruiz potential impeachment: What’s all the fuss about?”)

“Heard what is happening with the impeachment. Just so you know Greek Council has zero right to be doing this. It is an off campus commitment, just hold strong to that. Good luck, and just stick to the ASLMU Constitution and your job role. It is not stated that you must attend every event, if you did you would miss class and never have time to eat or study.” (Julia Roberts, LMU ASLMU President from 2010-2011)

“Greek council completely abused their power to unfairly impeach Bryan without asking the majority of the students what they thought or wanted. I think  it’s disgusting that we as Greeks are represented by the decision when our opinions weren’t taken into account.  Bryan was an amazing ASLMU president and all this became was a spiteful action and now the fact that this is all publically displayed is another low blow unfairly aimed at Bryan.” (Anastasia Vladimirovna LMU class of 2013, LMU Greek community member and former Greek Exec) 

“Without trying to jump to conclusions before all of the facts are let out and regardless of the technicalities behind the decision. I hope that all of those involved took into account how much this could have potentially divided the LMU student body and the effects on morale on campus. I hate to see my fellow lions split by such an ultimately harmless matter.” (Alberto Villanueva, LMU Class of 2013)

“When he first told me of his goal to be ASLMU President and that he wanted me to be his Vice President, I could not have been more honored.  During this year, President Ruiz has done many great things to promote the mission statement of Loyola Marymount University and to significantly benefit the Student Body.  For example, it was his idea to hold a Zero Tolerance March on campus to bring students together and let them know that LMU has a zero tolerance policy towards bias, ignorance, and hatred.  In addition to this event, under President Ruiz’s leadership, he has empowered many people in ASLMU to do things they never imagined.  In particular, As President Ruiz’s Vice President, he has helped me improve my leadership qualities and become a better mediator.” (Vinnie Caserio, LMU Class of 2013, ASLMU President - Appeal letter to Judicial Affairs)

“This is my first year on ASLMU, and it has been one of the first times ASLMU has hired a Director of Special Events on their team without prior ASLMU experience. Bryan and his team believed I was a qualified candidate from my previous LMU leadership roles. Bryan saw my passion, my energy I put forth my work in being a student leader. When I officially joined the team, Bryan engraved the term ‘family’ to our organization. He preached to all ASLMU leaders that we are here to ‘listen to the student’s – be the voice of the students.’ He incorporated this theme throughout the year, and always believed in the greatness of all our work. The positive impact he makes in the office and to everyone who knows him, truly embodies the character of an ASLMU President. His leadership inspires others to be great leaders.(Sheila Koohpai, LMU Class of 2013, Director of Special Events – Appeal letter to Judicial Affairs).

“As ASLMU Director of Intercultural Affairs, I have worked with Bryan for the past year and I can say that as leader of our organization I have seen Bryan lead our group in good and bad times. Personally, Bryan supported me in all my events and decisions. President Ruiz is an essential part of our organization, without him we would not have a strong foundation to continue with the year.” (Nancy Flores, LMU Class of 2013, Director of Intercultural Affairs - Appeal letter to Judicial Affairs).

" You may know that our previous Director of Social Justice resigned and I was brought in to take her place in mid-October. In the midst of this internal struggle and mid-term season, Mr. Ruiz took the time to personally train me and guide me as a new member of the ASLMU family. He was supportive, understanding and above all, present. IT was made abundantly clear to me by Mr. Ruiz as well as others that I was now a part of a family of leaders… Wthout bryan as the President of ASLMU, there is a break in the chain of command and thusly, a disturbance in the oganization that brings you a majority of LMU’s programming." (Megan Attore, LMU Class of 2013, Director of Social Justice - Appeal letter to Judicial Affairs). 

Pictures

image( Student Workers  at  LMU ilead 2011)

image( ASLMU Senate Christmas photo 2011-2012)

image( SAE colonization ceremony California Alpha Epsilon Colony October, 2012) 

 Video Clips 

I want to share a short clip of some of my duties as a first year Student Worker. Good times!  This was posted by former Los Angeles Loyolan writer Kyle Oddis in  her phenomenal  article  ‘Students Juggle Full Load’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkCkl5lfpUc

For those who are interested in SAE’s story, which began as an LMU interest group and  now an official colony – here is a short YouTube clip produced by SAE member, Tony Chanes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JipmcUGIUlc

Letter to LMU community

February 19, 2013

To my fellow friends and peers,

Foremost, I would like to stress that this statement is solely on behalf of myself, Bryan Ruiz, and does not represent the views of the ASLMU organization. It has come to my attention as of Sunday, February 17th, that Greek Council plans to motion the impeachment of my current standing as president of ASLMU.

During my term as Student Body President, I have to my best ability consistently addressed students’ concerns. ASLMU has always been my utmost priority. As part of the organization, I have promised transparency to the student body at large. I have fulfilled my ASLMU obligations to the best of my ability. It is important that the motion to impeach my presidency should be done under the rubric of due process. Therefore, I would like to bring some clarity to some of the issues being brought forward, namely:

1.) “They hosted their alumni night on campus, which is illegal according to LMU standards.”

At the time of SAE’s ‘Alumni Night’, I had already stepped down from office and therefore was not aware of the SAE event taking place on campus. I was attending the Los Angeles Mayoral Debates. The SAE event being held in Foley Annex was not under my discretion; I was fully aware that the fraternity was not affiliated with the university and therefore would be violating Greek Council regulations. Greek Council had earlier brought the regulation to my attention on November 8th, 2012:

“That being said the official stance of the LMU Greek Council that Sigma Alpha Epsilon … neither be admitted nor recognized as official member organizations in the Greek Community … therefore; we declare that we, as registered fraternities and sororities of Loyola Marymount University, oppose an official recognition or registration of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, by the Greek Community of Loyola Marymount University - respectfully signed behalf of over 1,180 undergraduate members of LMU’s registered fraternity and sorority community.”

The planning of the SAE event was an executive decision under the newly instilled president, Nick Mecham. Having stepped down as President, I was unaware at the time of the event that it was being held on campus. I did, in fact, find out that it was being held in Foley Annex eventually and sought action to move the LMU men off-campus. As ASLMU president and as a person who upholds the values of men and women with and for others, I did, however, feel the obligation to take the blame for my fellow students who were being questioned by Public Safety and felt uneasy. I understand now that this was a mistake on my part.

After experiencing such conflict of interests similar to this situation in the fall, I duly rescinded my position as SAE President. Notwithstanding, my ASLMU duties have always been my priority. Finally, the SAE presidency was a personal choice which was not intended to interfere or manipulate ASLMU’s interests. The ASLMU team has consistently served the student body and has executed all of its programs as well as events with the students’ interests at heart. It has been a successful year and will continue to be one in light of the questioning of my “conflict of interests” as ASLMU President.

2.) “ They also held ‘recruitment’ where they lied to potential new Greek members, saying that they would be on campus by next year.”

During SAE’s recruitment process, our e-board informed potential incoming members of my association with ASLMU, and the position and limitations SAE had as an off-campus organization. During recruitment, potential members were made aware that SAE was not recognized as a campus-affiliated organization, and were thereby aware what their membership entailed. It was ultimately the individual’s choice to join the organization based on the information given.

ASLMU and everything it embodies has been the pinnacle of my time here. The university administration entrusted me as well as my fellow ASLMU peers with the biggest responsibility of all, which is serving as the student body’s voice and helping it live out the university’s mission. Simply put, ASLMU aspires to advocate for the students and serve the student body in any and all cases, put on programming events that inspire Lion spirit, and help one realize the value of a holistic education. Ultimately, my goal as ASLMU president has been to put on programs that we will all remember for a lifetime.

If you feel strongly about this issue and wish to not support the motion set forth, I encourage you to attend the Senate Meeting on Wednesday, February 20th in The Hill at 1:45pm (Malone - 3rd floor). If you wish to raise further questions or concerns on the matter, please feel free to personally contact me via email: bryanruizlmu@gmail.com.

Sincerely, 
Bryan Ruiz