Inter-Club Council director Michel Ebeli, a key member of student governance on campus, resigned from his position, effective Nov. 4. His resignation reveals deeper issues within Las Positas College Student Government , including overwork and negligence of duties, purported behavioral issues with the adviser and failure to interview new members.
Ebeli explained that he left his position because he wasn’t able to balance his governance work with school. Normally, he would have a secretary, treasurer and parliamentarian on the Inter-Club Council, or ICC. The Club Fair, hosted by the ICC, was almost canceled due to difficulties with club communication.
Ebeli’s sudden departure creates another vacancy, giving the LPCSG executive board six open seats: vice president, director of legislation, director of communication, director of finances, LPC student trustee and now director of ICC. The work is now being done by three people. President Lara Wiedemeier will conduct ICC meetings until Ebeli’s successor is in place.
The executive board is largely responsible for many campus events, including the newly opened Mini Market. Josue Hernandez, the Program Coordinator of Student Life and LPCSG Adviser, said the current numbers are “by far one of the worst” he’s had since becoming the advisor in 2018.
Last semester, student government officials totaled 13 members. The three current members continued from that cohort to join the executive board.
“The work continues,” Hernandez said. “We wish we could have it, with organizing and planning. But we have to get used to things.”
Ebeli felt the current situation could have been prevented.
“The ICC director transferred. Communication transferred, finance transferred. Senators transferred. The person who applied for the VP position ended up transferring,” Ebeli said.
He continued, “The team is short-staffed. We’re doing more than just our duties.”
The spots are open because students did not run for them in the last election. However, there have been applicants for positions since the start of the semester which have not been acknowledged.
Brody Price, a current LPC student, said he applied for a student government position in September when he heard it was short on members.
“I emailed my application to the program coordinator Josue Hernandez and never got anything back,” Price said. “I am pretty sure I filled it out correctly, so I don’t really know what went wrong.”
One source, a current member of a school leadership group who spoke on the condition of anonymity, believes the lack of members is due to the adviser’s behavior. The source contends Hernandez makes students wary of applying for leadership position.
They say the adviser makes inappropriate comments, does not communicate effectively and fosters a negative environment.
The source recalled the adviser commenting on how students don’t dress well, shower properly or comb their hair while making a side-eye toward them. Later that day, he told them to iron their pants.
“He does not know how to behave with students,” the source said. “Alumni before told me that there’s a lot of behavior issues with him, and they faced very similar things to me.”
The member sent Hernandez an email regarding his behavior, but he did not respond or acknowledge it.
“Sometimes,” Ebeli said about Hernandez, “he can be a tad bit passive-aggressive, and I’m like ‘that’s not necessary.’ It just shoots down people’s morale, but it doesn’t affect how the work is done.”
When prompted about the alleged behavioral issues, Hernandez said, “Per the Brown Act, any business or issues related to LPCSG can be addressed during public comment during one of Senate meetings. I will defer from addressing any internal issues.”
In another instance, the source said an in-person LPCSG meeting was designated at a certain time, but Hernandez changed it at the last minute. The source had to leave their job to attend it online. According to the source, Hernandez criticized them for not being there in person at the time that was agreed.
“At that point, it’s not our fault,” the source said. “We all have our own lives. Student government is not my life, sadly for them, but I really don’t think that was fair.”
The source continued, “I wouldn’t mind doing the work if there was a kind of appreciation there.”
Ebeli says, “When you do something big, you expect a word of encouragement or something, but it was like, ‘Oh, you just did what you had to do.”
While ICC director, Ebeli was enrolled in 18 units, attended soccer practice every day and traveled from San Leandro. He says he overestimated himself and underestimated the position. While he felt his work was devalued, he believed LPCSG was an overall good experience.
“The things that I was saying echoed into other things. Now, the (student life) office is open to students. These are things that I wanted to see,” Ebeli said.
Kyle Johnson, who served as LPCSG senator, director of finance, director of legislation and president from 2020-22, said LPCSG is a super supportive environment.
“My closest friends were in student government. You can really create networks and bond with each other…That’s the kind of environment that I got,”Johnson said.
However, after the 2020-21 executive officers termed out, a letter of grievance regarding Josue’s behavior was submitted to the Vice Principal of Student Services, according to the source.
Former LPCSG Senator and Vice President from 2018-20, Alina Verzi, considered leaving student government the year the former adviser, Nessa Julian, was replaced with Hernandez.
“Nessa was very forward with new change and ideas. (With) Josue, it seemed like we had to cut down our new ideas and even traditions we had…With declining manpower and more and more meetings to discuss the most basic of ideas, people started leaving,” Verzi said.
Hernandez says, “My job as an adviser is to advise them to do in a way, the right thing. It’s a little difficult when we have an event and I have to tell them this is how you should be doing it.”
He continued, “We’re an organization of opportunity and creativity. If you come in with an idea, and you want to do it, let’s do it. But remember, an idea has a plan, so always develop plans.”
The LPCSG adviser does not get a vote, but interjects to correct and guide the members when necessary. Hernandez does not see the lack of members as a negative, but a challenge to overcome.
“If we have a director of finance, it would be me training the director of finance helping them develop budgets. Now that we don’t have it, it’s one less thing that I have to do. The more we have, it’s more training. It takes more work out of me,” Hernandez said.
Although Hernandez had alleged behavioral issues with students, he also ensured perks for LPCSG, like a stipend for members up to $1000 each semester. The Mini-Market came to fruition largely due to his efforts.
However, in addition to issues with the adviser, the current member noted the LPCSG president is violating one of her bylaws, attending the Board of Trustees meeting, which can result in her impeachment.
According to LPCSG Bylaws article IV, section 3, the president shall attend the Board of Trustees meetings, the College Council meetings, the Town meetings and the Chancellor’s Council meetings. If they cannot attend, they are responsible for finding a replacement.
As president, Johnson made a point to serve on many governance committees to make good on advocacy efforts.
“That’s also why our student government was super successful because I knew everything that was happening, because I was sitting in on all the meetings that I could,” Johnson said.
Johnson also defended Wiedemeier. “It’s difficult to run a student government that doesn’t have (many) members because at the end of the day, if the job isn’t going to get done, it falls on the president to do it.”
The source said, “It’s not just her taking a lot of things on her back. We are all in student government. We are all college students. We are all taking on a lot of units.”
If more members leave LPCSG, there may not be enough to meet quorum.
“Student government’s really what you make of it…Without people in student government, there won’t be huge fun events. There won’t be that needed advocacy component we really need to see and keep continuing,” Johnson said.
Despite multiple requests for a response, Wiedemeier declined to comment.
Lizzy Rager is the managing editor for The Express. Follow her @ragerwriter.