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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Last Week in Senate


Business and Finance Chair David Heifitz abruptly resigns, citing discomfort with intolerant executive

The newly sworn-in ASUCD Vice President Shaniah Branson called the last Senate meeting of Winter Quarter to order in the Mee Room of the Memorial Union on March 15 at 7:29 p.m. Amanda Bernal, the External Affairs Commission chair, was not present at the meeting.

Appointment of a new pro tempore was postponed for the first Senate meeting of Spring Quarter.

Bryan Sykes, the editor-in-chief of The California Aggie, delivered the unit’s quarterly report. Currently, 140 individuals work at The Aggie. Decisions for a new editor-in-chief are to be made in mid-April. The Aggie is entering its second phase of a redesign project to update newspaper distribution racks on campus in pursuit of The Aggie’s goal “to be integrated in campus presence.”

David Heifitz, the Business and Finance Commission chair, presented six individuals to be confirmed for membership to the commission. All six were appointed.

Disability Rights Advocacy Committee chair Andy Wu delivered the committee’s quarterly report. Four new members were hired over the course of Winter Quarter. Disability Awareness Week, which was held from Feb. 26 to March 2, was reported as a “great success.” Wu reported plans to communicate with other registered student organizations to increase the committee’s publicity as well as communicating with campus administrators to establish a position similar to a DRAC chair at UCSD.

Rodney Tompkins, a second-year psychology major and the Elections Committee vice chair, reported on the results of the ASUCD Winter Elections. Tompkins reported an election cycle reliant on social media for exposure and encouraged individual word of mouth from the table to publicize future elections.

“People know elections are happening,” Tompkins said. “They need to want to vote.”

He went on to address concerns brought up during what he described as a “contentious election.” He referenced allegations of bias in the elections committee and defended the committee’s courses of actions, which include the disqualifications of Unite! senatorial candidate Colin Heurlin, a third-year transfer student majoring in international relations and The Golden Slate’s executive ticket, Adam Hatefi, a third-year political science major, and Shreya Deshpande, a third-year cognitive science and sociology double major. Tompkins said the committee’s decision followed the bylaws, citing no official recusals for their actions.

Tompkins advised the table to maintain a level of professionalism and increase their communication with students, committees and the respective communities of senators. He discouraged petty discussion over social media regarding elections.

“Accountability shouldn’t have to be a platform,” Tompkins said. “It should be inherent that everyone shows up and does their job.”

Tompkins addressed Senator Andreas Godderis’ quote in a recent article published by The California Aggie regarding bias toward slates and candidates already involved in the association. Tompkins advised the table to “reach out to those who can make our words beneficial.”

Godderis asked Tompkins about his position on slates’ contribution to ASUCD elections, questioning their value. Tompkins said he is open to suggestions from Godderis and the table for stricter regulation on slates in the future.

When the meeting moved into public announcements, David Heifitz abruptly announced his resignation as Business and Finance Committee chair after only just being re-appointed as chair five weeks prior. He turned in his placard to Branson, scolded the Senate for failing to meet quorum at last week’s meeting and said he would not “serve on the same table as people who are racist, transphobic [or] homophobic.”

After the resignation, Nicole Garcia, the Aggie Reuse Store unit director, delivered the store’s Winter Quarter report. The store reportedly developed new committees including internal events, video, analytics and inventory. So far, it has raised a cumulative $6,073 this school year — $2,675 of that during Winter Quarter. Aggie Reuse is focusing on video production for its marketing and is planning its largest revenue stream from Picnic Day in the spring.

Claire Chevallier, a third-year psychology major, reported on behalf of the Sexual Assault Awareness Advocacy Committee. The committee is requiring risk management managers to go through training to handle sexual harassment cases. SAAAC is also planning a sexual harassment forum exclusively for Greek life. Chevallier and graduate student Jessa Rae Growing Thunder will represent UC Davis in a new UC Student Advisory Board for sexual violence prevention. They will both begin holding office hours next quarter.

Senators Jake Sedgley and Atanas Spasov were appointed as representative senators for the Council of Student Affairs and Fees.

A ten minute break was called. It ended at 8:53 p.m.

Senator Danny Halawi re-entered the meeting after roll call.

The schedule moved into consideration of old legislation. Because several authors were not present for consideration, ASUCD Resolution #2 and Senate Bills #48, #49, #50 and #51 were tabled until the next meeting.

SB #52, requiring “the ASUCD Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission (ECAC) Chairperson or Commissioner to advise the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) on issues of cultural appropriation” was passed.

There was lengthy discussion over SB #53, authored by Danny Halawi, calling for closer monitoring of attendance at Senate meetings. Time was spent debating what merits an excusable absence from meetings. Instead of three absences meritting a closed session, now only two will be permitted. If a senator notifies a presiding officer of an emergency less than 24 hours before a Senate meeting is called to order, the officer must notify them if they are excused before said meeting starts. SB #53 passed as amended.

SB #54, also authored by Halawi, requires adoptive senators of SAAAC to ensure that fraternities and sororities publicly display ASUCD-provided sexual assault awareness visuals. The bill passed as amended.

During public announcements, newly-elected ASUCD president Michael Gofman commented on the new table’s performance as the smoothest Senate transition he had seen.

Abby Edwards, the Academic Affairs Commission chair, stood before the table demanding improved attendance by senators at commission meetings. She cited “abysmal” records of attendance during Fall Quarter. Edwards reminded the table of their obligations to be present at a minimum number of commission meetings per quarter.

“It’s denying them respect they are bylawfully required,” Edwards said.

Ex officio reports were given, followed by elected official reports.

It was announced that Kelly Ratliff, the vice chancellor of finance, operations and administration, had cancelled her planned attendance at this Senate meeting.

Gofman announced that construction on the third floor of the MU will begin in August and will not conclude until next Fall Quarter. The Mee Room will be unavailable for Senate meetings during that time, and a search for a new venue is underway.

The meeting adjourned at 11:08 p.m.  



Written by: Elizabeth Mercado — campus@theaggie.org


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