Controversial prosecution of UC Davis student by Yolo County District Attorney discussed
The weekly ASUCD Senate meeting was called to order by Vice President Adilla Jamaludin on Feb. 15 at 6:10 p.m. in the Mee Room of the Memorial Union. Controller Jin Zhang and Senator Khadeja Ibrahim were absent.
The meeting began with a monthly report from Judicial Council Chair Ryan Gardiner. Gardiner began by stating that the Judicial Council had been relatively busy of late with “10 cases in the past seven days.” He discussed ongoing projects that members of the Council are working on, including but not limited to: the reorganization of government documents, changes to ASUCD election rules and maintenance of transparency within the judicial system at UC Davis.
Jamaludin then moved to have Public Discussion brought further up in the meeting agenda. During this portion of the meeting, a member of the community brought to light the recent prosecution of current fourth-year comparative literature major Noah Benham. Benham was prosecuted by Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig and, according to the speaker, was prosecuted while protesting the presence of Milo Yiannopoulos on campus last January.
The community member raised concerns about the lack of involvement from the student body in the case, which will be tried in Woodland on March 5. The community member additionally stated that he felt that the charges were too extreme and that he is creating a petition to drop the charges.
In response to the statement, ASUCD Senator Josh Dalavai elaborated on his opinion on Reisig, stating that the DA is known for exacerbating the administration’s recommendation of punishment in such cases and is “antagonistic and biased.”
Lastly, the community member brought up the June elections for the Yolo County DA position and asked for the support of the Davis community in the election — highlighting candidate Dean Johansson.
ASUCD Senator Rahi Suryawanshi mentioned the Police Accountability Board Meeting which took place on Feb. 21.
The Public Discussion segment was followed by the confirmation of candidates from the Disability Rights Advocacy Committee. The candidates included second-year psychology major Brielle Hadley, fourth-year biological psychology major Kelly Murrell, second-year animal science major Jennifer Lin and third-year communication major Daniella Aloni. During a brief Q&A session with members of the Senate, topics included a walkout for disability awareness, understanding the intersectional identities of individuals with disabilities, making the campus more welcoming and a discussion as to where ASUCD itself could improve its accessibility to DRAC. All candidates were confirmed by the Senate.
The next portion of the meeting was a housing presentation delivered by David Taormino, a representative from the West Davis Active Adult Committee. Taormino detailed the proposal he submitted to the City of Davis Community Development Department. The 75-acre apartment site is located on the north side of Covell Boulevard, west of Sutter-Davis Hospital and will offer 325 for-sale units,150 affordable senior apartments and an Activity and Recreation Center. Taormino stated that this housing plan is not restricted to senior citizens ages 55 plus only, but is meant to “combat loneliness” and will allow members of the Active Adult Community to interact with the youth of Davis by renting or selling their homes when they move to the WDAAC.
Taormino stated that this project was “a quid pro quo” in the sense that the student body is expanding and has a growing need for housing, and the senior community in Davis has a growing need for a new senior living community; the exchange proposed was support for this housing plan in order to benefit the student housing market in the long run.
This presentation was followed by the introduction and confirmation of OASR candidate Destiny Padilla, a second-year community and regional development and Chicano studies double major, who received recognition from multiple senators regarding her active, involved presence on campus.
Next, Senate Resolution #14 was presented. It supports a proposal brought forth by Health Education and Promotion which would require two non-instructional days per quarter. The resolution passed.
Senate Bill #24 allotted $742.29 to renovations on the bike circle near the Student Community Center including the addition of painted butterflies. The bill passed.
Interim Senator Shaniah Branson authored Senate Bill #34 which would create a mandated mentorship program between those in ASUCD and those new to ASUCD. A lengthy discussion on the bill followed.
“When I came into ASUCD, I didn’t know the system at all,” Senator Jesse Kullar said. “The website was a mess. I’ve constantly asked senators to come out to me. No one reached out to me; I had to reach out to other people. It came to my attention that a group chat was made excluding Shaniah, me, and [Michael] Gofman about this bill. The people who originally wrote the bill were shut down. This is unacceptable.”
As in previous Senate meetings, Jamaludin expressed her frustration with the state of the Senate.
“One thing you can’t legislate however is genuine relationships,” Jamaludin said. “Both sides have to try. I’ve seen many Tables come and go. In the past we’ve worked so well together. If anything this bill is a proxy for things on the Table right now. In the next week switch up seats and don’t write bills to the same goddamn people. It’s week six, I’m terming out and if I leave from the Table in the same state as it is now I’d be so upset.”
The bill passed.
The Senate agenda moved on to cover ex-officio reports, elected officer reports and the approval of the past meeting’s minutes.
Written by: Priyanka Shreedar — firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article did not include Destiny Padilla’s majors. Padilla is a community and regional development and Chicano studies double major. The article has been updated to reflect this change.