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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

Last week in Senate


Daniella Aloni confirmed as interim senator

Vice President Shaniah Branson called the weekly Senate meeting to order at 6:10 p.m.  on April 12. Senator Danny Halawi was late.

First on the agenda was a quarterly report from the Mental Health Initiative. Fourth-year English major Sam Chiang, the founder of the MHI, spoke about Mental Health Awareness month occuring in May. Chiang said approximately a quarter of all adults currently live with mental health issues and suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. The awareness month will include tabling on the Quad every day as well as events and activities.

Next, the Committee on Student Affairs and Fees gave a presentation. COSAF representative Jessica Sandoval offered the committee’s purpose as being to “advise the Chancellor through the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs on the use of student fees in Student Affairs units” and “advise on the use, management and capital improvements to student fee-funded buildings and facilities.” The committee is composed of 10 voting undergraduates, four voting graduate or professional students, one voting faculty member and two voting staff members.

Of the fees overseen by COSAF, the Facilities and Campus Enhancements Fee and Legal Education Enhancement and Access Program supports on campus maintenance. It is  $427.83 per current undergraduate and graduate student.

In the allocation of the separate Student Activities and Services Initiative/Student Services Maintenance Fee, 8 percent went to Student Community Centers, 22 percent went to financial aid and 34 percent went to Student Athlete Grants in Aid.

In light of a recent change to oversight power, Sandoval said COSAF hopes to have more oversight over units on campus “and have a better understanding on how they’re using the money.”  

A contentious conversation followed regarding the confirmation of the nomination of third-year communication major Daniella Aloni into the interim senator position left open after Andreas Godderis resigned as a senator. Aloni, who ran and lost in the Winter Elections, was nominated by ASUCD President Michael Gofman. Gofman said he “chose her because of her experience working in commissions and committees and her experience running for Senate.”

“I decided to run for this position after actually losing in the elections,” Aloni said. “As a transfer student, I really wanted to get involved and make a positive impact on communities. I want to focus on my platforms.”

Questions from the table followed. Senator Ko Ser Lu Htoo expressed concern over the absence of other individuals at the interviews for interim senator — “Are you aware there should be two more Senators at the [interview] meeting?” Htoo asked Aloni.

Gofman responded that these inquiries should be directed to him and although a link to sign up to help with interviewing was posted, no one responded.

“She showed up and I didn’t want to interview anyone alone so I reached out to Greg Ortiz to interview her so there would be multiple [perspectives],” Gofman said.

Htoo said Gofman could “either withdraw the nomination or I motion to postpone the confirmation until the interview is seen by two senators as it’s not fair for the other candidates.”

Controller Jin Zhang gave her insight on the situation.

“I wanted to clarify that there’s an interviewing committee for interviewing senators,” Zhang said. “However, the only person who really needs to be there is Michael. However, at the same time, the Table can always decline the nomination and another process will be held after this week. The vacancy will be reopened.”

A 10-minute break was proposed, to which Htoo objected. Pro Tempore Jake Sedgley motioned to divide the house. The divided house voted to proceed on Aloni’s confirmation vote which resulted in seven yes votes, three no votes and two abstentions. Senator Jesse Kullar then motioned to confirm Aloni. Aloni was confirmed with a vote of six yes votes, two no votes and four abstentions.

Senator Htoo voted no on Aloni’s confirmation. Htoo clarified to The California Aggie that this vote was due to unfairness in the interviewing process and a “lack of experiences.”

A break was then held from 7:25 p.m. to 7:35 p.m.

Old legislation came up after the break. Senate Bill #55 would authorize the Vice President to administer the oath of office to ASUCD Senator instead of the Elections Committee Chair. The bill passed in the Internal Affairs Commission on a 4-3-2 vote. Opposition said that they were not sure why the change was necessary and believed the work of the existing Election Committee sufficed. Sentiments in favor of the change said that the new committee is non-partisan and “they shouldn’t be administering the power”

Notable questions about the bill followed. Senator Htoo said the Elections Committee was not in favor of the bill as it changes ongoing procedures that have worked in the past. After continued debate that merged toward a resolution, a vote was taken on SB #55. It failed with four yes votes, five no votes and three abstentions.

The next bill was Senate Bill #58, which would allow commission chairpersons to make motions, second motions, motion to confirm and object to motions throughout the Senate agenda. It passed in the IAC unanimously.

“I just really enjoy motioning us into public discussion and this bill would prevent me from doing that,” Gofman said. “I enjoy motioning and seconding stuff. This bill creates an exception for committee chairs to do that but it doesn’t create the same exception for the president.”

A member from the public said that it was their understanding that the bill would save time during Senate meetings.

Academic Affairs Commission chair Abby Edwards said “making it so we can motion in and out of things allows us when we’re getting a completely new Senate Table to push things forward and let them learn.”

ASUCD Senate Bill #57 was subsequently tabled.

Next was the introduction of new legislation. A Senate Bill to allocate $2,556 for covering Entertainment Council’s sound and lighting expenses from Lawntopia 2017 was proposed and sent to the Business and Finance Commission.

Another proposed bill would allow students to serve on no more than three subordinate bodies of the ASUCD Senate. This was sent to the IAC.

Next was the status of passed legislation. All past legislation was approved and signed.

Next was public discussion.

“There’s been a difficulty getting in touch with Kelly Ratliff,” Gofman said.

Ex-officio Reports and Elected Officer Reports were delivered. Past meeting minutes on April 5 were unanimously approved and the Senate meeting adjourned at 9:46 p.m.



Written by: George Liao — campus@theaggie.org


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