Defend Free Speech at LMU and Hold ASLMU Accountable for False Impeachment

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On 10/11/20, ASLMU Senator Camille Orozco successfully carried out her impeachment complaint against fellow Senator Stephanie Martinez on the grounds that Stephanie “severely damaged the integrity and authority of ASLMU.” The Senate ruled 18 to 1 with 2 abstained in favor of impeachment. This was a coordinated attack against Stephanie Martinez. As a result of this impeachment, Stephanie has received hate, backlash, and even death threats. No student, regardless of race, gender, political views etc. should ever have to feel unsafe to voice their opinion. No student should ever be silenced for being brave enough to do so. 

The student Senate repeatedly denied that this was about free speech and political affiliation. It was necessary to make that statement because the alternative would prove to have no grounds for impeachment. They claim that this was about Stephanie’s conduct, yet her conduct cited was her expression of free speech on her social media and various witness responses to those social media posts. In the hearing, the Attorney General directly stated, “As a point of information, as it was mentioned during the Senate question, I would like to clarify that personal tweets are free speech and are protected and are not grounds for impeachment.” According to the evidence provided and various testimonies throughout the hearing, all of their arguments against Senator Stephanie Martinez were based on her political affiliation. If the tweets were not grounds for impeachment, then those responses to them should not be either. According to the ASLMU constitution, the non discrimination policy is as follows: “No officer or member of ASLMU shall discriminate against any individual on the basis of ancestry, nationality, creed, philosophy, economic disadvantage, physical disability, mental illness or disorders, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In adhering to this policy, ASLMU will not advocate the restriction of anyone’s freedom of public speech, assembly, expression, or association.” Student government (ASLMU) is a direct branch of LMU meaning they have to operate under the rules of LMU. As LMU is a private college university receiving federal funding, they most oblige to the Federal Law and California’s Leonard Law. Federal Law cited is the first amendment protecting free speech and free press, along with supreme court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that protects free speech on campuses. California’s own Leonard Law goes one step further to protect this speech on all school campuses, public or private. 

The timing of this impeachment raises another problem. This impeachment was brought forward mere days after a Loyolan article was published about Stephanie Martinez in response to her formation of the “LMU Students for Trump” Instagram page. The article was titled “Petition to impeach ASLMU senator resurfaces following the creation of “LMU students for Trump Instagram page.” It can be reasonably assumed that if this was an issue of Stephanie’s comments, that impeachment would have been brought forward in the five months before the article was published. 

Conservative students around the country are outraged by this impeachment. Conservative students already face hate on campus, and have reported property damage, physical and verbal assault, discrimination in classrooms by fellow students and teachers, and have even death threats. It is well documented that this is a systemic issue on college campuses around the country and LMU is no exception. ASLMU has done nothing to help support these students. Stephanie Martinez was going to be an ear that would finally listen to the voices of conservatives. However, this impeachment will prevent that. These actions and total disregard for the concerns of conservative students severely damages the integrity of ASLMU beyond repair. Camille Orozco is responsible for this damage as she was the one who initiated the impeachment. We demand that LMU step in and put an end to this by ensuring Senator Martinez is not removed from her position. We also demand the impeachment of Senator Orozco for “severely damaging the integrity of ASLMU” with the conservative community. 

Not only does this hurt the integrity of ASLMU, but LMU as a whole. We strongly urge current and potential donors to reevaluate who they are donating to and what projects they are funding. Students pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet the University only cares about certain underrepresented groups. LMU and ASLMU are built around the principles of inclusivity, but this impeachment says the exact opposite.