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NEWS: Accusations rise against SGA for bribery, leadership integrity, improper procedures

NEWS: Accusations rise against SGA for bribery, leadership integrity, improper procedures

By Ana Vara
Bridge Staff Writer
and Destiny Sanchez
Assistant Editor

Originally Published Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023
Republished Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024

[Editor’s Note: Some updates have been made to this article to improve its accuracy since its original publication.]

In a series of serious allegations, TAMIU’s Student Government Association has come under fire for improper procedures, communication problems, leadership issues and possibly even bribery.

“Ant-Hill Chronicles wants to thank the public for the outstanding support we have gotten since our last publication,” are the first 18 words of a post made earlier this year, on May 1, on the Texas A&M International University Student Network on Facebook.

SGA President Caro Ramirez
Rolando Santos | TAMIU Public Relations
Student Government Association President Carolina Ramirez poses for a portrait on campus inside the Academic Innovation Center.

The since-deleted and anonymous Ant-Hill Chronicles on Facebook posted accusations and screenshots of text messages claiming that SGA President Carolina Ramirez was allegedly bribing people, and that SGA then-Vice President Malik Thompson was involved in discrimination and pointed to overall allegations of SGA corruption.

One of the Instagram direct message screenshots, included messages allegedly sent by Ramirez’s account, from Spring 2023, possibly offering bribes for votes: “I’m also doing a raffle prize! If you send me a screenshot of the submission at the end, you’re entered into a raffle for a $50 Visa gift card! My full name is Carolina Ramirez, and I would really appreciate your vote!” The screenshot included Ramirez’s account profile photograph and full name.

Despite numerous attempts to reach out to SGA and Ramirez for the association’s side of the story, all interviews with The Bridge were denied. Members of The Bridge staff also reached out to Student Orientation, Leadership & Engagement Program Director Nicholas Hudson, but he never responded.

Hinging on shock factor and polemic, the alleged bribery is only one of the concerns some students raised against the SGA.

Former SGA VP Malik Thompson
Miriam Salinas | Bridge
SGA former Vice President Malik Thompson poses for a portrait on campus, Oct. 13.

Though the allegations of bribery begin and end with the post, short lived as it was, the concerns remain. Malik Thompson, former vice president and member of the Campus Activities Board, became a leading voice for certain students following the growing list of concerns that center around the SGA. Among them—as Preston Salazar, former SGA president, informed The Bridge—is the problem of meeting minutes remaining unavailable to the general public.

In sync with these grievances, the now-defunct Ant-Hill Chronicles and Thompson shed light on the lack of transparency and communication issues within the SGA.

“The fact that they ceased all work and communication [with me,]” Thompson said, is one example of the communication issues.

In a Sept. 21 Instagram post by Thompson, he wrote, “I attempted to voice my concern with [Ramirez’s] recent conduct. She brought up boundaries and when I tried to bring up how she attacked me … she ended the meeting after attempting to silence my voice by removing me from the room.”

For weeks prior to his resignation, he’d been excluded from executive board meetings. As a member at that time of the SGA, his exclusion is a possible violation of Robert’s Rules of Order Revised, Fourth Edition, Article XIII, subsection 72: “The Right of a Deliberative Assembly to Punish its Members.” According to Texas law, governing bodies must follow Robert’s Rules of Order or an equivalent ruleset. Salazar confirmed that SGA follows Robert’s Rules of Order.

E-board meetings, as they are known, were held at different times and locations—often changing for the board members’ availability, generally not being disclosed to the public in a consistent manner. The Bridge was never notified, in accordance with Sunshine Laws, of any of these meetings or schedule changes.

Carlo Ochoa portrait
Cris Rios | Bridge
Carlo Ochoa, former SGA chief of staff

Former SGA Chief of Staff Carlo Ochoa said it was difficult to follow when and where meetings would be held.

A week after the Sept. 21 E-board meeting, Thompson alleges that Ramirez and several other board members ceased communicating with him. He ended up resigning from both his vice presidency and CAB on Sept. 28.

Thompson’s exclusion from executive board meetings, coupled with Ramirez’s refusal of The Bridge interviews, raises questions about potential violations of procedure.

Ochoa explained that a great deal of frustrations were arguments of personal belief. The fatigue of performance began to bleed into the meetings themselves, and as tensions rose, more and more members began to drop out of the association.

Weeks after The Bridge’s initial investigation and conversation with Thompson, he said he did not “quit being vice president, I was threatened and forcefully removed.”

Several senate members have now left their SGA positions.

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