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Davis, California

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Guest Opinion

The editorial board’s accusation in its Thursday editorial that ASUCD President Rebecca Sterling “unlawfully” attempted to remove former Senator Yara Zokaie from ASUCD is misinformed and factually inaccurate.

Zokaie’s actions — completing her coursework and graduating from Davis last spring, and enrolling in an outside law school this fall — necessarily entail she has resigned her seat.

ASUCD Bylaw 703.2 states that only enrolled students may serve as a senator and Section 3 of the ASUCD Constitution states that graduate and professional students may not hold an elected or appointed office in ASUCD. These are in addition to university employment rules specifying that only undergraduate students may be student employees — a category that includes ASUCD senators.

Although ASUCD has traditionally allowed for a grace period of one quarter after completion of coursework to continue employment, Zokaie exhausted this option when she did not enroll in this calendar year’s Summer Session.

The “bylaws” that the editorial vaguely claims Sterling violated simply do not exist, and the premise that Zokaie, after leaving Davis and enrolling as a law student at another university, can somehow have the luxury of choosing whether or not to resign is nonsensical.

The reality that Zokaie is no longer an ASUCD Senator is evidenced by the fact she was removed from university payroll due to her non-student status — something entirely outside the control of any ASUCD official.

A commonsense understanding of university and ASUCD policy would clearly lead to the conclusion that Zokaie has resigned, de facto, by virtue of her actions.  Since Zokaie has resigned, the Elections Committee is required to commence a count-back election, and if no student is eligible to serve from the count-back, then Sterling must post the vacancy for a specified period of time, after which she will make an appointment with the ASUCD Senate’s confirmation.

This is exactly what Sterling is lawfully and responsibly attempting to do. Contrary to The Aggie’s specious assertions, the ASUCD Court has no stipulated or required role at any point in this process.

To the best of our knowledge, the editorial board determined it was unimportant to seek out Sterling’s justifications.  While the board is free to do as it pleases, it should have made a good-faith effort to listen to both sides before calling her actions “ridiculous.”

More worryingly, the board appears to have been co-opted by one or two sources with a political agenda, and relied solely on those sources in condemning Sterling.

The students deserve better from their newspaper.


  1. Well, sure I have a very simple citation.

    Per Senator Lee’s LinkedIn page, found here:


    He was involved in Capital Fellows as an Executive Fellow starting in October 2011. He also lists being a Senator through November 2011.

    The brochure for Executive Fellows can be found here:


    It very clearly states that “Fellows attend weekly university graduate seminars and earn graduate units in Public Policy and Administration”. Note the word graduate. That means the Senator Lee started graduate coursework at another institution while he was a Senator at ASUCD.

    Seems like a clear case of hypocrisy, no?

  2. It’s funny enough that these two ex-senators who have graduated felt so compelled to write to the Aggie with their concerns. However, it’s even funnier that Senator Lee himself graduated in Spring 2011 and continued serving throughout Fall 2011 even though he was a Capital Fellow and as such, enrolled in graduate coursework through CSU Sacramento.

    • Do you have a citation for Senator Lee’s academic history?

      Also, please explain how it is funny for former Senators to write in their concerns. Legitimate concerns should be addressed, not laughed at, regardless of who sends them in. Do you believe the Senators’ concerns are not legitimate?


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