ASI merger results in appointment of new interim director

A divided Associated Students Inc. board of directors confirmed Wednesday a letter of appointment for an interim executive director of the Enhanced Auxiliary, increasing administrative oversight of student government.

The confirmation of Aimee Barnes, assistant director of program and services, during its weekly meeting split the board and student center faculty, with seven members approving of her appointment and six members voting against it. Three members abstained from the decision, and President Sarah Padash’s vote was the deciding factor on the appointment.

“It’s a tough decision, but I think at the end of the day I have to think of what’s best for the our organization,” Padash said.

Vice President of University Affairs Celia LuBuono Gonzalez opposed Barnes’ letter of appointment that grants the interim director the power to hire and fire personnel, which Gonzalez was unaware of prior to the board’s vote and Gonzalez described as “a disrespect for student self-governance.”

“I feel tricked and deceived by the university,” Gonzalez said. “The University underhandedly forced the board to make huge structural changes. It makes the executive director a direct employee of the University and not of Associated Students.”

The appointment of an interim director was expected since ASI and the student center agreed to the merger, effective July 1. The University presented a Memorandum of Understanding to the board Nov. 12, which proposed shifting the responsibility of ASI supervision of the executive director, currently Peter Koo, to Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Loulou Hong.

Business representative Itzel Centeno supported Barnes’ letter of appointment and believes administrative oversight over ASI would improve student government performance.

“It says we’re trying to work with the administration a lot more closely,” Centeno said. “Allowing the vice president of student affairs to oversee and make sure that person is accountable is important so they’re acting in their jurisdiction.”

According to Centeno, pressure to meet a deadline to appoint an interim executive director from the university contributed to Barnes’ new role on the board.

Muata Kenyatta, senior program advisor for programs and services of the student center, was not aware of the MOU, which the board is expected to discuss Dec. 3, prior to attending the meeting and thought it was a complete shift from the university’s autonomy.

“That’s not shared governance, it’s a takeover,” Kenyatta said. “It’s a cultural change and turn around for SF State.”