By The Viewpoints Editorial Board
When a person pursues a position of power, their constituents demand transparency, whether they be citizens of a nation or students at a higher learning institution.
The Associated Students of Riverside City College are the student government. They are supposed to work for their constituents like all government officials in a democracy. In this case, that is the student body.
Several students voiced their discomfort over Albert Jaramillo, a convicted sex offender, running for ASRCC president to Vice President Stefany Moctezuma during an Inter-Club Council meeting May 17.
Moctezuma dismissed students’ concerns about safety and met sexual assault survivors’ pleas for transparency with callousness.
She continued to say that she understood where students were coming from while telling them that their sexual trauma “will always be there,” so it is not a substantial argument to ask Jaramillo, or anyone with a similar conviction, to resign.
The vice president went as far as to equate the public’s desires for transparency about the possible incoming president’s past conviction to a gay person experiencing discrimination. She later walked her comment back after being called out for it by students.
The ASRCC mission statement says they “shall not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, ancestry, gender or gender identity, genetic information, national or social origin, marital status, medical condition, physical or mental disability, differential political opinion, primary language, race or color, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.”
Although there is no mention of sex offender status, ASRCC leadership is adamant about protecting Jaramillo’s “personal life” despite several students voicing that they feel they have a right to know.
Indeed, Jaramillo has a legal right to attend RCC and participate in student government. He has a right to rehabilitation and education, and rightfully so. No one is depriving him of these rights.
But we, the Viewpoints Editorial Board, believe students have the right to know if someone with sex crimes in their past is representing them. The concerns of these students should not be met with disregard.
To the surprise of many, Moctezuma revealed that there have been several people with a similar sex offender status in ASRCC throughout the years.
However, this kind of conviction is not something that can simply be written off as a troubled past. Nor can it be written off as a “mistake made” or something that results from socioeconomic circumstances.
It is a conviction that weighs heavy on many survivors of sexual violence, many of whom were children when they were assaulted. It weighs so heavy that some spend a lifetime recovering mentally, emotionally and even physically. Their ability to trust others is often broken.
Many have come forward about several powerful people in the years since the #MeToo movement.
President Joseph Biden, former President Donald Trump, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh and several more who have sexual assault allegations against them have had that information reported by the news.
The aforementioned men have denied all allegations and claim no sexual misconduct. However, it is still public knowledge and the public deserves to know who they are voting for.
Though these people in power may have felt slandered by the allegations and the news media publishing them, their constituents have the right to know.
The RCC student body is no different.