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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

This week in senate

ASUCD Vice President Maxwell Kappes presided over the senate meeting held on May 1 in the Mee Room on the third floor of the Memorial Union. The meeting was called to order at 6:22 p.m.

The first order of business was presentations, during which Senator Gareth Smythe announced that the ASUCD Marketing Committee had its first meeting that week and that it went well. Smythe said that senators who assisted ASUCD units should remind their unit directors to work with the marketing committee to enhance social media presence.

After presentations, the senate moved into committee reports. Smythe announced that students should participate in the Champagne Award, which involved nominating an ASUCD hourly employee to receive the award for outstanding customer service. Senator Eugenia Chung said that the ASUCD Scholarship application had been put up and that senators should try to advertise for the scholarship.

Senator Mariah Watson announced during public announcements that she had brought cake for three senators’ birthdays taking place that week. The senate then moved into public discussion to sing happy birthday to the senators.

ASUCD confirmed five new members to the Business and Finance Commission. The senators went over the legitimate and illegitimate questions to ask commissioners during confirmation. Senator Jonathan Mitchell asked what each members’ majors were, which was deemed inappropriate and out of context by the rest of the senate.

Afterwards, senate moved into consideration of old legislation. The senate went over Senate Bill #71, which would change public speaking time from five minutes to three minutes. Senator Katie Sherman, who introduced the bill, said that it would help increase efficiency during public discussions. The table voted 9-1-0 on passing the bill, with an abstain by Senator Artem Senchev, but the table, except for Mitchell, voted against allowing the bill to go into effect the same night.

The senate then moved into unit director reports. The first to issue a report was ASUCD Coffee House (CoHo) Director Darin Schleup. Schleup announced that the CoHo is doing well financially and will either break even or increase profit by the end of Spring Quarter 2014.

After continuing into a public discussion, Schleup read aloud an apology statement issued on the CoHo Facebook page. The apology accounted for the recent “Cinco de Drinko” event that six CoHo employees planned. The event was said to be an appropriation of the holiday Cinco de Mayo by several students and diversity groups on campus. Schleup said that all of the CoHo employees are now scheduled to go through diversity training with campus officials.

ASUCD President Armando Figueroa was present at the meeting. He said he was at the meeting to support Schleup.

“I’ve never been more impressed with a unit director,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa also said he was disappointed that this event was created on the same week as La Raza Culture Days, a week to celebrate the Chicano/a culture.

A member of the public spoke out afterwards to say that she had been involved with a lot of diversity groups on campus, and that it is not okay to perpetuate stereotypes like CoHo employees did in the party invitation. Kriti Garg, chair of the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, said that not knowing about diversity was not an excuse to perpetuate stereotypes. Other senators also said they were concerned that this type of event had happened before and still had not been stopped.

Schleup said that peer training for incoming CoHo employees was being developed to prevent this from happening again.

Senator Azka Fayyaz said that another CoHo event similar to “Cinco de Drinko” had happened earlier in April and was called “Holy Land.” According to Fayyaz, this event was equally insulting to the Muslim community but had not gotten as much publicity or an apology as the more recent event had.

“Personally, I really feel that my community and I have been completely ignored and neglected,” Fayyaz said to Schleup.

Senator Nicholas Sanchez said that, during an apology that the CoHo employees made to the student organization Me.Ch.A, which represents the Chicano/a movement, many of the students blamed the event on their ignorance of diversity. Sanchez said that the apologies did not seem genuine because students blamed the event on their unfamiliarity with the culture.

Mitchell said that this event did not have to do with ASUCD affairs. He said that the Facebook event, which is still active, is bad press and will discourage diverse students from coming to Davis, to which Fayyaz disagreed.

A break was then called at 9:19 p.m.

Public discussion continued after the break. A student who said she identifies as Mexican American said that she felt safe at the CoHo before this event. After the event, she said she felt marginalized by the community outside of the CoHo. She said many of her co-workers felt unsafe coming to work because of the anger regarding the event.

“There are people who work at the CoHo that were not involved with this event who will be punished anyway,” the member of the public said.

Zach Griffiths, chair of the Business and Finance Commission, said that another break should be called.

The senate resumed at 9:55 p.m. Smythe asked a member of the public, a student who is involved with several diversity groups on campus, to help direct senate on things she would like to see done to increase cultural diversity and awareness on the campus. Among the things she and senators wrote down were mandatory diversity classes in general education, mandatory cultural competency training for all UC Davis employees and a meeting with Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and other student leaders on campus to discuss these issues.

A counselor from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) was called by a member of the public. She and another counselor came in during the meeting to offer free support until 11:30 p.m. for anyone who needed it.

Fayyaz said that during the break, she and Mitchell talked together to resolve their issues.

“We dealt with it and I think we have grown closer because of it,” Mitchell said.

The house was then divided to vote on whether or not to adjourn the meeting early. The vote passed 8-1-3 with Senchev voting no and abstentions from Sherman, Fayyaz and Senator Robyn Huey. Further deliberation on how to proceed with the list on cultural training was discussed before the meeting was adjourned.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:06 a.m.

— Melissa Dittrich


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