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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
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will mascaro v the people

Will Mascaro reinstated as CASE director by Senate

Special meeting lasted almost three hours

Will Mascaro was reinstated as the Director of Center of Advocacy and Student Equity (CASE) by a Senate vote of 9-1-4, 9 voting yay, one voting nay and four abstaining on Nov. 8 in a special Senate meeting. The meeting was called after Mascaro was fired from his position on Oct. 31 by AU Student Government President Taylor Dumpson.

Mascaro was fired because the SG executive board alleged that Mascaro spent $3,800 on students’ rights cards that were not authorized by Student Activities, according to a AUSG press release.

The meeting was called after some 200 students signed a petition in support of Mascaro and senators called for the meeting. Students working for the center also said they “can not and will not” work for CASE unless Mascaro was reinstated.

Lasting almost three hours, the meeting was standing-room only and included student testimonials in support of Mascaro. During the public comment at the beginning of the meeting, many students spoke out in support of Mascaro, especially students in CASE and those who served as senior advisors within the organization.

Sophomore Cal DiJulius said she has known Mascaro since high school and said Mascaro attracted so many people to work in AUSG.

“He’s always been a voice for the voiceless,” DiJulius said to the audience. “I can attest to that from the day I met him. I think based on all the people in this room, I think a lot of people wouldn’t be here or wouldn’t be involved in AUSG if it wasn’t for Will.”

Additionally, junior and CASE staff member Ma'at Sargeant cited her past experience working with Mascaro on the new Student Conduct Code language when she was president of the Black Student Alliance as an example of his care for students and a reason for him to be reinstated.

“I’m personally not a big fan of AUSG, I never thought it represented a lot of underrepresented people on this campus but I decided to join CASE specifically because of Will,” Sargeant said. “I saw how much Will cared and he really reached out … I really appreciated Will’s initiative.”

Following the public comment period, the senate moved into five minute statements from both Dumpson and Mascaro.

During Dumpson’s statement, she said that Mascaro was removed from the position because he had spent $3,800 on student rights cards without prior approval of Student Activities.

“By voting to reconsider the decision to remove Will as CASE director, you will be voting in favor of action that inappropriately obligated student activities fees which are funded by undergraduate enrollment fees to be paid without receiving appropriate approval,” Dumpson said. “By voting in favor of this, you will be setting a dangerous precedent for AUSG in the future.”

When it was Mascaro’s turn to speak, he claimed that the purchase was authorized by SG comptroller Christine Machovec. Because he had not previously gone to Student Activities prior to making a purchase, Mascaro said, he assumed that he would be able to follow through on paying the manufacturer.

“I felt comfortable saying to the manufacturer, who on his own accord sent to us the cards early without receiving payment, that we would be able to follow through on payment,” Mascaro said. “I felt comfortable doing that. It’s not student activities money. It’s student money. It was sitting there. It was allocated by the comptroller and I knew that we would be able to pay. I knew the project was meaningful and that it mattered.”

Mascaro compared the purchase to when “you’re on Amazon and you add things to your cart but you never hit checkout.”

“It’s exactly what happened in this incident,” Mascaro said. “We never had a credit card. We never had a check. We never had the means to make payment and we waited for Student Activities to follow up on their responsibility to use student money to fund this project.”

During Dumpson’s period of questioning, Dumpson said Mascaro’s analogy is false and that this situation was more like going to a restaurant, eating and not being able to pay for your bill.

Mascaro said running CASE for the past year and a half has been “the privilege of a lifetime.”

“There’s not a lot we can do in student government, but what we can do is follow up on our promises,” Mascaro said. “That is my intention on this project and I hope I have the opportunity to do that.”

Ayana Wilson, student activities director, also took questions from senators. She said that the decision to remove Mascaro, made by the executive board, was not personal.

“It doesn’t matter who that person is, there still needs to be some accountability,” Wilson said.

Machovec, who was mentioned by several of Mascaro’s supporters as having approved Mascaro’s purchase, said Student Activities has the last word when it comes to SG purchases.

“I don't have the authority to [make final approval], which is why we have this kind of hierarchy in place when it comes to restricted money,” Machovec said.

After two hours of statements, debate and public comment, the senate then moved forward to vote. 9 senators voted yes to reinstating Mascaro as CASE Director, while one senator voted no and four abstained, reinstating Mascaro as CASE Director.

Once Mascaro was reinstated, the room broke out in claps and cheers. For Mascaro, his reinstatement was about getting back to work and continuing with his work with CASE.  

“At the end of the day, I think my boss is the student body and having this opportunity for the student body to send a message that they want me to keep working for them really means a lot to me,” Mascaro said following the meeting. “I want to take that trust they put in me seriously.” and

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