Matthew Nicholson & Ali Khan address Board of Trustees meeting
On Tuesday night Santa Monica College student, and former Associated Students Director of Activities Matthew Nicholson made his case for new AS elections during the monthly meeting of the SMC Board of Trustees. The new president of the Associated Students, Ali Khan also addressed the board meeting, issuing statements addressing the Nicholson case as well as discussing the separate matter of future goals of the Associated Students board.
Amid the usual updates on campus projects and events, Nicholson and supporters took the podium to denounce the AS elections from last May as, what they claim was a tainted and corrupt process. Nicholson also denounced his impeachment, which took place under charges of dereliction of duty and violation of the AS Constitution & Bylaws.
Since being disqualified during the elections under accusations of violating election code by giving out pizza during AS campaign season, Nicholson has accused faculty members and the AS board of colluding to defame and deny him a fair election by using false evidence.
On Tuesday he made it clear to the BOT that he is taking legal action to try and reverse the election and hold a new one this upcoming fall semester. Nicholson has filed a case with the District Attorney's office which is currently investigating the matter.
Transferring SMC student Alex Abramoff, took the podium first and said, "I am here to stand in solidarity with Matt Nicholson. As someone who has been through a couple of AS elections and has seen how not clean they can be run, I just wanted to say that from my opinion more focus can be put on these elections. I want to see if it would be possible for there to be a reelection."
Another SMC student and current AS Director of Budget Management, Howard Kim, also took the stand to defend Nicholson. "What happened during the election was some kind of collusion between certain directors and maybe even faculty to disqualify Matt. That includes a list made of ways to target Matt. I can give names if required, but for now will keep it at that," Kim said.
Kim also called on an adult supervisor to be present at future AS Board meetings to monitor and regulate any potential bullying that might take place. Kim made claims about the meetings centered on Nicholson and said, "they grilled his ass at every single meeting for two months."
Nicholson took the podium with prepared statements as the board looked on. "This is the third time I have spoken to you all and for me, personally, it's upsetting that despite the violation of board of trustee's policy and despite the fact that the District Attorney is now involved you still refuse to acknowledge the cheating that took place during the recent AS election," began Nicholson. "All I want out of this is to be able to run in a fair student government election and all I'm requesting from you guys is that the trustees require the AS to hold fair elections and write board policy to make sure they can be fair in the future," he continued.
Nicholson denounced what he called a violation of his right to run for student body president. "This isn't about whether I would win or lose, it's about whether I can run in a fair and honest election," he said.
He also accused the AS board, the Elections Committee and even the AS dean, Sonali Bridges, of targeting him due to claims he has made against former AS president Ty Moura regarding an interaction on March 25 during election season.
"This targeting has even reached the administrative level," alleged Nicholson. "On March 25 I had a meeting with Dean Bridges and Dean [Dina] Hern in regards to the incident with Ty. Less than an hour after that meeting Dean Bridges allowed the elections committee to have a secret, illegal vote session in her office where she made a public comment urging the Elections Commitee to disqualify me," claimed Nicholson.
Nicholson went on to cite e-mails and other documents he has obtained that, according to him, prove collusion among various parties to discredit him as a candidate and AS board member.
Nicholson is demanding a revision of current AS bylaws to allow him to seek being in office again. According to Article II, Section 1 of the AS bylaws, which states that no person who has been removed from the AS through an impeachment process can serve on the AS board again. "The D.A.'s office and outside agencies have had to come in and deal with this," he added. "The District Attorney's office will hold you accountable for some things that have occurred, the courts will hold you accountable for the rest."
Former AS president Ty Moura has already denied the claims made by Nicholson, citing a lack of any solid evidence. Sonali Bridges was unreachable for comment.
Near the end of the meeting, the new president of the AS, Ali Khan, took to the podium to make his debut as the new head of student government. Khan took a few moments to address the Nicholson case. "If Matt is still concerned about student equity, he could still apply for one of the vacancies and drop his lawsuits," suggested Khan. "No blame should be associated with the trustees, this is an internal issue directly relevant to the previous board and Matthew's actions which led to his impeachment."
Khan went on to clarify that his administration is separate from the previous semester's board. "Our goals are to benefit the students of SMC as effectively and holistically as possible within our capacity as student leaders," he said.
Khan described the need for increasing educational advancement, boosting equal access to educational success, and streamlining the process by which clubs are established. "The need for establishing an articulated schedule of events for students and to develop chemistry as well as an understanding of jobs during our retreat," said Khan in reference to the upcoming AS retreat on August 25 at Pepperdine University.
Khan also described the need to collaborate with the Student Senate For California Community Colleges and Region 7, with the goal of improving student life on campus. Khan also detailed the need to establish an AS election code in line with the federal election code.