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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Students “Chat and Chill” with Senate at inaugural ASUCD Town Hall

Sean Guerra, Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission Chair, speaks at ASUCD's Townhall. (BRIAN LANDRY / AGGIE)
Sean Guerra, Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission Chair, speaks at ASUCD’s Townhall. (BRIAN LANDRY / AGGIE)

ASUCD senators teach community the inner workings of the association.

On Nov. 5 at 6 p.m., UC Davis students gathered at the TB 24 building by the Aggie Reuse Store to meet ASUCD Senators and commissioners. The informal gathering was part of the event “Chat and Chill: An ASUCD Senate Town Hall,” hosted by ASUCD.

The town hall consisted primarily of a question-and-answer portion with the audience members moderated by Aggie Studios News Director Miguel Raphael Bagsit and ASUCD Outreach Assembly Speaker Lauren Ashe.

The moderators began the event with prepared questions. They then welcomed the audience to ask their own questions and participate in the discussion with the senators and commission chairs. Free samples of the ASUCD Coffee House’s new kombucha drinks were also served during the hour-and-a-half event.

For the senators, the event provided students with a chance to learn about ASUCD’s history, what the association does and what the organization plans to do to help students in future.

“A lot of people refer to the student government as ASUCD, although technically that is not correct,” Senator Sevan Nahabedian said. “ASUCD is the entire undergraduate student population.”

Through the event, the audience learned the importance of ASUCD and the organization’s impact on other departments at the university.

“Departments will ask for ASUCD support when pushing for an initiative,” said ASUCD Senator Roman Rivilis. “While it may not seem this way, departments do look up to ASUCD, because we provide them a perspective of what students are looking for, and the services that students are actually using, so that optimizes the performance of all departments on campus.”

Members of the student government, including Senator Danielle Mae Santiago, hope that events like the town hall will increase student interest

Lauren Ashe (left) and Miguel Raphael Bagsit (right). (BRIAN LANDRY / AGGIE)
BRIAN LANDRY / AGGIE

and involvement in the Senate, which will lead to a board that better reflects the student population and its needs.

Among the discussed topics was ASUCD’s role for students. ASUCD’s government contains a legislative branch, which consists of the Senate and commissions. The Senate oversees a number of units that serve the students, including the Coffee House, Bike Barn and Unitrans.

Each senator adopts units and provides them with a voice in student government of their needs. The senate manages a $13.1 million budget, which goes toward benefiting students in numerous ways, including keeping prices low at the Coffee House and paying students who work within ASUCD.

“When you pay your student fees, some of that money goes toward ASUCD,” Senator Casey Nguyen said . “There’s 22 to 24 units that ASUCD has that are all beneficial to all you as students. The budget is what makes those units possible. It goes to things like paying students. It basically helps [ASUCD] run and provide services for you all.”

In addition, each senator talked about their individual platforms that they are advocating for the coming year. These include accessible online degree checks on OASIS, new Aggie Card designs and a new Coffee House, among others.

For Senator Kamaal Thomas, that platform is student retention, especially for underrepresented minorities. Thomas believes that the reasons for the higher rate of dismissal for minority students includes the lack of resources available to them. As a spearhead behind the new Center for African Diaspora on campus, Thomas hopes extend this type of support to Chicano and Native American students.

“It’s clear that we haven’t been doing enough to work on these communities, and it’s something I wanted to work to make sure that each student feels like they belong here, they can succeed here and get a job afterwards,” Thomas said.

The Senate also spoke on its hope to improve its connection with the UC Student Association (UCSA) and the Student Advocacy Government Engagement.

The event ended with one audience’s question: “What’s the most ridiculous thing that’s happened in a senate meeting?” Santiago recounted a budget meeting last year when the senate stayed up until the early hours of the morning trying to approve a unit’s budget.

“That meeting didn’t end until 4:45 in the morning. It started at 6 p.m. That’s after the whole weekend: Friday, Saturday and Sunday — and that Tuesday also,” Santiago said. “We got really close, but we were also very delirious, but that’s how much we care about ASUCD and our budget!”

The event adjourned at 7:30 p.m. A complete video recording of the event is available on Aggie Studios’ YouTube channel.

Written by: Viet Tran – campus@theaggie.org

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