Senate debates endorsement
A particularly contentious ASUCD Senate discussion last week on resolutions opposing Propositions 4 and 8 and endorsing Davis‘ Measure W, ended in a philosophical debate about the true mandate of the representative body of student government.
Two of the resolutions aimed to express the senate’s opposition to California’s Prop 4, which would require parental notification of a minor’s abortion, and Prop 8, which would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. The third resolution supported Measure W, a parcel tax to help preserve programs at Davis schools, which passed with a 9-2-1 vote.
The discussion turned to the appropriateness of the senate issuing an opinion on the statewide propositions, which have a decidedly broader scope than normal senate considerations.
Two senators – Chris Dietrich and Rebecca Lovell– chose to abstain from one or both of the votes.
“Although I personally agree with the sentiments of these resolutions, I did not feel it was appropriate for us to take action endorsing any ballot measures,” Dietrich said. “I feel that ballot measures are intentionally left for individual voters to decide, and by passing a resolution we are telling students how we think they should vote, which I don’t think we have any right to do.“
Other senators viewed the resolutions as appropriate actions of an elected representative body and pointed out that other UC student governments have historically endorsed legislation like this.
“This is why we elect student representatives – we are not just here to allocate money once a year at budget hearings,” said senator Rebecca Schwartz. “I believe it is important for student representatives to take a stance on issues they believe in. Of course the ASUCD Senate was only endorsing it as just the ASUCD Senate, and we can’t take ourselves too seriously.“
The resolutions to oppose Prop 4 and Prop 8 ultimately passed with votes of 10-1-1 and 9-1-2, respectively. The no votes in both cases came from senator Jesse Rosales.
“The primary reason I voted no on these resolutions is because I wanted to draw attention to the fact that these resolutions are issues beyond the scope of ASUCD’s primary concerns,” Rosales said.
GO slate disbands
GO will be no more after the terms for the slate’s two sitting senators run out. GO chair, Dietrich, made a formal announcement at the senate’s Thursday meeting.
“Tonight we are officially announcing the disbanding of the GO slate,” Dietrich said. “Since our establishment in 2007 we have worked hard to serve the student body and provide tangible changes for students. However, over time we lost many of GO’s core members and we were unable to recruit new ones because so many people are disillusioned with their student government.“
Dietrich attributes this disillusionment to the slate system itself. The divisions between GO, LEAD and Independent senators promote conflict in ASUCD elections as well as within the senate, he said.
“This conflict, while it is sometimes beneficial to ensure that wise policy is pursued, has often only served to create animosity and unnecessary drama,” Dietrich said. “It is also clear that the slate system has not truly represented the entire student body and there are many groups that have been left out as a result.“
GO was formed in 2007 as an offshoot of the now inoperative Student Focus party. The slate initially ran five candidates in the fall 2007 senate election, two of whom were successful. GO could then only muster two candidates for the winter 2008 election and didn’t put up a ticket for president and vice president, instead endorsing an unsuccessful independent ticket.
It remains unclear as to whether or not a new slate will emerge to replace GO. In the meantime, candidates for senate not affiliated with LEAD can run independently.
“I sincerely hope that another slate emerges as quickly as possible to maintain both competition and legitimacy within our student government,” said Schwartz.
Senator Jesse Rosales views this as an opportunity for students to shape their government at UC Davis.
“With GO being gone we need to have more independent candidates that have individual opinions that differ from the typical ASUCD senate table mentality to make for a good balance,” Rosales said. “I feel this is a great chance for an overhaul of ASUCD and to bring a new flavor that strays from the norm.“
ALYSOUN BONDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.