JRB Meeting to Decide Evangelista’s Fate

Tuesday, Feb 14, 2017 at 6:36 pm by Zachary Levine

Tonight Judicial Review Board (JRB) Chair Matthew VanDemark formally outlined the charges against the embattled SA president, who had been under investigation for the better part of a month.

VanDemark spent around an hour describing the charges and investigation process in depth, highlighting the three violations of the SA Constitution that were in question. The JRB chair explained that the latter two of the violations came about once the investigation had gotten underway. The chair spent the bulk of the meeting dissecting the details of the JRB’s findings document on the Evangelista case, and explaining them in a way that was easier to comprehend.

The first violation addressed Evangelista’s nomination of Nicole Sherwood for Public Relations Co-Chair. Evangelista had failed to send an email out to the entire student population, allowing any student the chance to apply for the open position. Tonight we found out that after Evangelista announced the nomination of Sherwood, a number of SA assembly and cabinet members came up to members of the JRB with concerns about the fact that no email offering the position had been sent out. Once the investigation got underway, around ten people testified against Evangelista, according to the JRB Chair. Those who testified were SA cabinet and assembly members. No university officials testified in the case.

Evangelista was found “not guilty” of the first violation. VanDemark stated that the main basis for this decision was that the association did not choose a specific date to email the student body about the PR Co-Chair opening. VanDemark said that “we only knew that an email should have been sent out, but there wasn’t anything enforceable to act upon that.”

According to the JRB’s findings document, the second violation in question was that after Evangelista was notified of his violation, he intended to forward it to SA assembly and cabinet members, but accidentally sent to the entire undergraduate student body. VanDemark mentioned that the JRB found that this action was likely a mistake.

The third violation in question was that Evangelista misinformed the SA assembly on the SA Vice President’s role in the nomination process of Sherwood. In addition, the JRB uncovered that in an email to university administrators, Evangelista falsely claimed that Sherwood was one of the PR Co-Chairs. According to the written report cited earlier, the JRB found that Evangelista had appeared to have given Sherwood a “biased advantage.”

The JRB found it unfair that Nicole Sherwood’s confirmation was pushed “without a fair election process,” as the JRB Chair stated. VanDemark pointed out that in the SA constitution, the president has “the ability to elect anybody that he can elect within his powers…” with few exceptions. VanDemark was asked tonight if he believed Evangelista nominated Sherwood without opening up the position to the entire student body deliberately or not. He said that he thinks Evangelista believed “it was in his capacity to elect somebody, especially at the last minute…” It is important to point out the that the constitution is vague on the election process, but the president has the ultimate authority to decide. VanDemark said that there was discussion after the investigation stating that “maybe we should put more guidelines in [the constitution] that allow for that [more inclusive elections] to happen.”

There were three sanctions put on Evangelista’s powers, effective immediately and in effect for the rest of the semester, which will mark the end of the president’s term. The first disables him from using the campus-wide email listserv, that allows him to email the entire student body. A two-thirds vote of approval in the SA cabinet will now be required in order for Evangelista to send an email out to this listserv. The second sanction restricts the SA President’s ability to select cabinet members. The final sanction disables Evangelista from meeting with university officials and administrators without the company of the VP and Chief of Staff or other “relevant Chairpersons of the Association,” as directly stated in the JRB findings document. There are a few exceptions, which relate to circumstances of meetings that are highly confidential.

If Evangelista violates any of the terms in the “probationary contract,” as worded by the JRB findings document, he will be expelled from his position immediately. This will take place immediately, without any trial, as long as there is “simple evidence that is strong enough,” as VanDemark stated.

As of right now, VanDemark is not aware of any plan Evangelista has to appeal the JRB’s decision, however, if he does decide, he has until February 22 to do so. The JRB chair mentioned that while reviewing the findings with Evangelista, the president seemed willing to accept the terms.