Recently, several members of Bellevue College’s Associated Student Government left their positions. Students were selected and appointed by the administration to fill these vacancies. Frank Mueller replaced Gebriel Amare as ASG president, Yazmeen Paredes replaced Joel Allen as justice of external affairs and Vanessa Ross took over Paul Bell’s position as vice president of legislative affairs.
Associate Director of Student Programs Nora Lance said that she’s “very excited about newcomers.” The new hires had experience and required very little training, according to Lance.
Faisal Jaswal, the assistant dean of Student Programs, said that even with the shift in leadership, “nothing came to a stop, everything kept going.” Amare resigned to attend Washington State University and Joel Allen was accepted into the University of Washington. ”I’m really proud they got into good schools and are moving on,” said Jaswal, “I wish both of them the very best.”
There were a few things that led to Allen’s and Amare’s resignations. Lance recalled that Amare and Allen had unexcused absences from Board of Directors meetings.
The bylaws for ASG members allow no more than three unexcused absences per term, and Lance said that warnings were issued due to a lack of notification before missed meetings.
“There were a couple of different reasons that contributed to my leaving ultimately,” said Allen. Aside from transferring, another contribution to his resignation was, “not receiving the support that I really wanted from the people I worked for.”
“There was a lot of internal struggle,” said Allen. He mentioned that Amare stood up for him, and said Amare, “was going through a lot of the stuff I was going through.”
“There were allegations brought against me, and it was by one of our team members,” recalled Allen. “They didn’t talk to anybody else, they didn’t talk to any other members.” According to Allen, administration took the accuser on their word instead of conducting an investigation.
Allen said he received “heavy sanctions off of one man’s testimony without actual due process.” Allen was issued a disciplinary sanction that deemed him “not in good standing” with the school. This prevented him from serving on student government. There was also a written reprimand that went onto Allen’s student record.
He had to appeal against the allegations to regain his good standing and said this came at a time while he was getting his affairs in order to transfer to UW and organizing the World Class Men event, in addition to being a full time student. “To receive this type of reprimand for seemingly no reason […]was really jarring to me,” said Allen.
Although Allen won the appeal, he still experienced struggles trying to remain in student government. During a board meeting, “out of nowhere, without me really having information about it, they were trying to vote me out of student government,” said Allen, “That was a big issue for me.”
Allen said that he “loved working with Student Programs,” and that he enjoyed his time being part of the leadership community at Bellevue College, but he also hoped it to “be a learning atmosphere, not a tentative atmosphere.”
“I pushed back, which is a reason I didn’t get support,” said Allen. “The fact that I was found guilty initially,” shared Allen, “changed the way I viewed Student Programs. It’s a big part of the reason why I really haven’t been back.”
When it came to the administrative action taken against Allen, Chief Justice Trygve Vandal said he was “not exactly sure what [Allen] was referring to.”
Vandal said that the student status of being “not in good standing” is something that is issued by Student Affairs. “Student Affairs and Student Programs are very separate,” said Vandal, who added that the details surrounding that kind of case are something ASG members wouldn’t have any access to.
In reference to the conflicts within ASG and the actions that surrounded them, “It’s still kind of confidential,” said Valeriia Borodina, campus life and events representative.
As for the new members of ASG, “we’re very happy to have them,” said Borodina. “We click better as a team.”