ASUCD Constitutional amendment proposes one general election, increase in number of senators

MEENA RUGH / AGGIE

Proposal introduces senators to represent each UC Davis college, transfer, international students

Nick Flores, an English and political science double major and former ASUCD Internal Affairs Commission chair, and Rahi Suryawanshi, a fourth-year international relations major and former ASUCD senator, co-authored a constitutional amendment which proposes shifting from two legislative ASUCD elections to one and modifying senators’ constituencies.

The amendment, referred to as Constitutional Amendment #2, was conceived by Flores and supported by Suryawanshi as a response to a continuous lack of voter turnout from students to legislative and executive elections and disproportional institutional memory.

“The Winter 2018 ASUCD General Election saw under 10% voter turnout, and the Fall

2017 ASUCD General Election saw under 5% voter turnout,” the amendment states. “Given historical turnout figures and lack of widespread engagement and representation in ASUCD, this Amendment seeks to engage with historically underrepresented students and increase voter turnout.”

If passed, a singular general election would be held during the seventh week of Winter Quarter to elect 16 senators to the table instead of the current 12. The increase in the number of senators would come from a decrease in at-large senators — senators who currently represent the entire undergraduate student body — and the creation of collegiate and special interest senators.

As the amendment reads now, four senators would be elected on behalf of the College of Letters and Sciences, three for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, one for the College of Biological Sciences and one for the College of Engineering. Flores referred to a majority of ASUCD senators within the College of Letters and Sciences.

“Forcing slate leaders to recruit outside of those spheres, outside of traditional ASUCD spheres — into the College of Engineering, the College of Ag — will bring people who aren’t really in the conversation traditionally into the ASUCD conversation,” Flores said.

Special Interest senators would be designated to represent transfer students and international students with one senator each.

Flores said the number of collegiate and special interest senators would be open to deliberation and the present numbers in the amendment “aren’t set in stone.”

“I found many problems with the proposed amendment,” said Rodney Tompkins, a second-year psychology major and the ASUCD Elections Committee interim chair, via email. “It would further complicate the coming year and cause more problems than it attempts to solve. Would current sitting senators be forced to resign before terming out? What would result from all future senators terming out at once, since there would be no guarantee of anyone with prior institutional knowledge remaining on the table?”

Flores’ conception of the amendment was carried out under ASUCD’s previous table and executive and he has acknowledged his unfamiliarity with the newly-elected table as one obstacle to the amendment’s approval.

“My intent with introducing it now was not that I wanted it to pass,” Flores said. “Because I don’t think that ASUCD is necessarily ready for this big of an overhaul at this state.”

Constitutional Amendment #2, if passed, would shift ASUCD’s legislative makeup for the first time since the criteria for 12 senators was implemented in 1996. Flores compared Davis’ student government to that of other UCs, citing UC Berkeley’s Senate of solely at-large senators, elected in one election per year and a table of 20 individuals.

The likelihood of the proposed amendment passing on the table and being subsequently placed on a ballot in Fall Quarter 2018 for students to vote upon is not high, according to both Flores and Tompkins.

“The amendment is not wholly favored by many, if any, members on the table,” Tompkins said. “If it truly was created to start conversation, it has accomplished its goal.”

Its presentation to the Senate table was scheduled for March 8, but it was unable to go under review as that Senate meeting failed to meet quorum.

The last scheduled presentation would have been April 5, but it was rescheduled. Senate pro tempore Jake Sedgley, a third-year economics and environmental policy analysis and planning double major, said via email that the amendment was tabled.

It will continuously be rescheduled for the next week’s Senate meeting until a representative is present to advocate for it to the table. Suryawanshi termed out of office at the end of Winter Quarter and Flores has taken a year off from school — he will return in Fall Quarter 2018.

“This is not going to happen overnight,” Flores said. “And this isn’t the end-all be-all bill that’s going to cure ASUCD low voter turnout, low engagement, low transparency. But I think this is a step in the right direction.”

 

 

Written by: Elizabeth Mercado — campus@theaggie.org