Senate denies SG judicial board chair nomination
SG Senate voted majority to reject Ballester
Sophomore and AU Student Government Elections Commissioner Luis Ballester’s nomination to become judicial board chair, which “leads the Judicial Board and Judicial Branch of the Student Government,” was rejected by the Undergraduate Senate on Sunday, April 9. Another appointment could be made at the senate meeting on April 23.
Former judicial board chair and senior Jon Shapiro resigned from the position as chair on Friday, March 31. Currently, junior Chelsea Larsuel is the temporary acting chairwoman of the judicial board.
Shapiro resigned as chair due to controversy surrounding his handling of the SG comptroller election. The comptroller election between Pancotti and Machovec was halted by the Judicial Board because of a harassment case that Pancotti filed against Machovec. However, the case was ultimately terminated as the election was certified.
Senate Speaker Noah Wills and SG President Devontae Torriente are responsible for appointing a nomination for the position, Wills said. Once the nomination is appointed, the senate votes to approve the nomination into the position.
“Honestly, Devontae and I talked all week about who we thought would be a good fit no matter who applied or not and threw out names, and we wanted somebody who wasn’t completely new to the process,” Wills said during the senate meeting. “Ultimately, we decided on Luis.”
Ballester is currently the SG election commissioner, which works to “ensure that American University has just and timely elections.” Prior to his work as election commissioner, he was the chair of the SG Joint Committee on Elections Policy.
During the Undergraduate Senate’s meeting on Sunday afternoon, the group met to approve or reject this nomination.
Ballester had the opportunity to introduce himself. He talked about why he should be appointed to the position and answered questions from other senators. He mentioned his experience in JCEP.
“There are some things that need to change in J-Board and one of the things that I focused on when I was JCEP chair was to fill up JCEP and to make sure that it remains filled up and people are interested,” Ballester said during the meeting.
Class of 2020 Senator Ryan Barto asked about the application process and how Ballester received the nomination. Wills responded by saying that three applications were submitted for the position, with one application being a test, one application coming last minute and one application from Ballester.
Ballester was asked to apply for the position and acting chair Larsuel did not apply for the position, Wills said.
The senate then moved to a period of debate on whether to approve or reject the nomination. Senator Trevor Pugh thought the process to appoint a new chair was being rushed and had concerns about the small pool of applications for the position.
“I have a concern with this nomination,” Pugh said during senate. “I feel like it’s being really rushed to confirm a chair of the judicial board, and two, there is nothing in the bylaws that mandates us to fulfill it.”
After the period of debate was over, the senate voted to reject Ballester’s nomination with the majority voting nay to confirm him.
Wills said he doesn’t know when the next nomination for this position will happen within the school year. The senate meets only two more times this semester so this appointment might carry on to next semester, with Taylor Dumpson as SG president.
“We’re going to talk about it. I just don’t know if we’ll have somebody because the problem that was brought up was that it was too short of a process,” Wills said. “So if they want a longer process, I don’t know if we’ll have one for the rest of the semester.”
Torriente agreed with Wills and is not sure of how the two will move forward.
“It’s kind of disappointing that this happened,” Torriente said. “I think the way Noah and I viewed it was that we needed to get someone we wanted to appoint in that position so we could all work together on sort of fixing the process and making necessary reforms and that is obviously stalled now.”