The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

Case against AS President Lo does not justify impeachment

Photo+courtesy+of+Stephen+H+on+Unsplash
Photo courtesy of Stephen H on Unsplash

UC San Diego’s Associated Students is responsible for funding student organizations, hosting campus-wide events, and advocating for students’ needs. The organization represents the student body, and senators are democratically elected every year to make important decisions regarding student life on campus. However, last quarter, news surrounding A.S. was primarily centered around a call for the impeachment of current A.S. President George Chi Ioi Lo. With the gravity of an impeachment motion and calls for new leadership, I looked into the validity of the reasoning behind it. While there seems to be plenty of justification for criticism of Lo, the motion of impeachment seems extreme and distracts from other more important issues at UCSD. 

To begin, I would like to clarify that Lo was never my preferred candidate, and he likely never will be. His Instagram account showcases an elitist lifestyle, flexing his wealth and luxurious trips that give the impression that he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. His attitude towards politics seems to lean toward the Democratic establishment and centrism. Not to mention, his response to the housing crisis has been somewhat lackluster despite his campaign promise to improve student housing. Early in his term as president, Lo advised unhoused students to turn to $2,300/month hotel rooms following the announcement of the housing shortage for the 2023-24 academic year. In terms of substantive policy, Lo has been on the receiving end of criticism after A.S.’s collective decision to cap funding on student housing. The list seems to go on, but there were six main reasons behind Uplift’s impeachment call: 

  1. Alleged mistreatment of Housing Dining Hospitality workers. 
  2. Disrespectful behavior toward the Latine community members during the Latine Conference Funding Senate Presentation.
  3. Retaliation against the Associate Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion on Oct. 25.
  4. Acts of discrimination against Students for Justice in Palestine. 
  5. Retaliation against the Associate Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, a separate instance occurring on Nov. 7.
  6. An accusation of physical contact with a staff member during the 2023 Halloween Haunted Maze. (Note: this reason is not included in the recall but is in the official reasoning for impeachment) 

I interviewed Lo to get his side of the story, and I reached out to Senator Christina Green for her response. The request for the Latine Conference Fund was her project as a senator, and she also signed onto the demand for an apology. I was later invited back for a follow-up meeting with Lo following the failed impeachment attempt. 

Going point by point, the first incident that sparked tension was Lo’s allegedly rude interaction with HDH workers in early October at the Sixth dining hall. During my discussion with Lo, he described the incident and explained his frustration over a long wait time that led him to contact Jeff Palmer, the Senior Director of Campus Dining. Lo asked Palmer about any staff shortages that could be causing the long wait time, but Palmer reported none for that day. According to an HDH worker I interviewed after the incident gained public attention, Lo’s message to Palmer resulted in a change in the preparation process, subsequently creating longer wait times and more room for error. The worker claimed that Lo’s position of power pushed Palmer into making hasty changes, stating, “My manager was on the phone with the head of HDH, and after hearing his complaints, they tried to change the order process and it made things more complicated.” 

Story continues below advertisement

Though Lo denies ever being rude, for an HDH worker to call him out so publicly suggests that Lo’s hangry attitude was not a good look in the face of previous criticism of his elitist internet persona. The A.S. Judicial Board found that this violated his constitutional duty to maintain professional relationships with key campus partners. However, this incident is categorically more of a serious political gaffe than an impeachable offense. 

Uplift’s second point, of “disrespect at [the] Latine conference funding Senate presentation,” occurred when Lo questioned the presenters’ need for $75,000 dedicated solely toward attending a yearly Latine conference. In 2022, 20 students attended a Latine conference in Newark, a trip that Lo alleges was too expensive and attended mostly by friends of the former AVP. However, further investigation conducted last year by the A.S. Professional Staff found no official wrongdoing.

To justify the expense proposal, the presenters claimed that early funding would save costs. During their presentation, they referred to the $75,000 number as a “magic number” and were unable to provide specifics on money allocation. When I spoke with Green, she explained that the lack of detail in funding allocation is typical during the early phase of development, making Lo’s behavior come off as discriminatory. Two days after the meeting, five senators signed a formal letter asking Lo to apologize for his behavior.

Overall, after reviewing the recordings, it seemed as if both Lo and the presenters’ tones were somewhat unprofessional, and this incident is insufficient to justify demanding a public apology, much less an impeachment. My personal examination of recent emails from two of the five senators who had originally signed the demand for an apology shows that they had later privately apologized to Lo. When I reached out to them for comment, those two senators did not respond. 

This brought forth the third point, which accused Lo of retaliative actions against the Associate Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion following her participation in the demand for a public apology. The AVP of EDI signed onto the letter with their formal office title, which goes against Constitutional bylaws under the “improper use of title or position.” Lo sent warning letters through proper A.S. channels as a result. Though the infraction could be categorized as a technical offense, it is not impossible that this was an act of retaliation. The extent to which this rule has been enforced previously is hard to determine, making it unclear from an outsider’s perspective whether or not this was a fair warning from Lo. The fact that the J-board cleared him on this charge, however, indicates that everything was done under proper procedure. 

The fourth point, discrimination against SJP, alleges that Lo promised both Tritons for Israel and SJP 20 speakers during the contentious Nov. 1 meeting but failed to follow through, resulting in TFI having significantly more time to speak. Lo denies making this promise and claims that a communication error had caused the controversial mixup. Technically, the External Vice President Leslie Vallejo-Avila is responsible for Senate meetings, so this incident does not fall into the full responsibility of the A.S. president. Recognizing Lo’s lack of direct control, the J-board sided with the president. Despite multiple requests for comment, SJP has not responded, likely due to safety concerns.

The fifth point accuses Lo of an additional instance of retaliation against the AVP of EDI. Lo had requested that the AVP of EDI promote a post on social media to promote a vigil for Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attack. This followed the AVP’s previous post supporting an SJP walkout. Lo states that his reason for pushing back against her refusal was his commitment to inclusivity and representation for every student. This calls into question whether this was a violation of the idea of freedom of speech. Lo sent a warning letter following this incident, but like the last form of retaliation, it is difficult to determine the fairness of this action. Still, this was carried out through the proper channels and thus was cleared by J-board, making it the third charge to be thrown out. 

The sixth point, unmentioned by the original post but brought up in the officially submitted request for impeachment, refers to allegations of sexual assault. Lo, or someone with him at the time, has been accused of touching a male scare actor’s chest and shoulder and grabbing their hand at the 2023 Halloween Maze. Lo denies that he touched anyone and added that the scare actors had in fact touched him in an attempt to get him to move along in the maze. Regardless, the incident cannot be labeled as sexual assault without further investigation. As it stands, the situation appears more like physical contact that left the scare actors uncomfortable. The Office of Harassment and Discrimination has not reached out to Lo, and further investigation would need to be done to determine the validity of these accusations. OPHD usually reaches out within a week to the accused, but over a month has passed and Lo has not heard from the office. 

It is clear that these previous members of Uplift have had continual grievances with Lo. As a slate formed during last year’s elections, Uplift promotes a platform centered on diversity. Typically, candidates elected from a slate are more likely to work together and build upon relationships formed during the campaign season. Last year, 11 candidates officially ran on the Uplift platform and won a significant amount of elected offices. During the 2022-23 A.S. election, Uplift alleged candidate Lo of exaggerated accusations of racism and election impropriety, and it seems that some members of the slate have yet to drop these grievances. Though the whole slate is not directly pitting themselves against Lo, all of the senators that have banded together to publicly call him out ran on the Uplift platform. 

The impeachment of A.S. President Lo seems to be stretching political gaffes into a case for removal. On Nov. 30, despite hours of discussion and debate, the A.S. Senate fell short of votes to remove Lo. This negative attention has resulted in death threats and harassment against him, as discussion regarding A.S. lacks nuance and becomes more emotionally driven. 

The addition of two new colleges and nearly 8,000 students in just four years makes A.S.’s role more important than ever. UCSD has been facing a multitude of problems, and the drama around this impeachment attempt has made the whole of A.S. look incompetent. During a time of escalating global, domestic, and campus-wide tension, a united A.S. is crucial to avoiding a student-wide legacy of acquiescence. The further A.S. fractures internally, the less cohesive and responsive student government becomes. I encourage every single student who has even vaguely heard about our student government to vote in the spring; only a high turnout can overturn the culture of petty infighting.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Jaechan Preston Lee
Jaechan Preston Lee, Staff Writer
As a second year political science student, I love to write about contemporary political issues. From going to the border to interview migrants to opinions on the 2024 election, my work has focused on current events and systemic issues the world is facing in the present day.
More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *