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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

Constitutional amendment proposing one ASUCD general election, increase in senators withdrawn


Author states plans to reintroduce amendment in future

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 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 the continuous lack of voter turnout from students to legislative and executive elections and disproportional institutional memory. It was recently withdrawn from consideration.

“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 reads. “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.”

The amendment would reform the elections process so that only a singular general election would be held the seventh week of Winter Quarter to elect 16 senators to the table instead of the current 12. The increase in number of senators comes 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?”

The amendment’s initial presentation to the Senate table was scheduled for March 8 but was unable to go under review as that Senate meeting was cancelled for failing to meet quorum after the Senate’s prior Town Hall public forum on the same date.

Prior to its withdrawal, Suryawanshi termed out of office, leaving both authors absent.  According to an email from Senate pro tempore Jake Sedgley, a third-year economics and environmental policy analysis and planning double major via, the amendment was tabled until representation for it could be provided by the authors at a subsequent Senate meeting.

Flores’ conception of the amendment was carried out under ASUCD’s previous table and executive. He marked his unfamiliarity with the newly elected table and his own absence from UC Davis for a year as reason to withdraw the amendment from consideration until his return to campus in Fall Quarter 2018.

“I don’t feel the current Senate or exec are tenured or experienced enough to debate and consider these crucial and nuanced organizational overhauls that require advanced legislative literacy and an extensive understanding of ASUCD’s current operations and structure, as these reforms can potentially and fundamentally shift how ASUCD interacts within its own branches and with students,” Flores said. “I plan to reintroduce the bill when I return to Davis in order to ensure that it is given fair and transparent consideration.”

Constitutional Amendment #2, if enacted, would shift the legislative makeup of UC Davis student government 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.

“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


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