Turmoil in Senate as Senator Halawi makes allegations of ASUCD “corruption,” other senator resigns
Vice President Shaniah Branson called the ASUCD meeting to order on Thursday, May 24 at 6:11 p.m. Senator Danny Halawi and Senator Brandon Clemons were late and Senator Daniella Aloni was absent.
The meeting began with a public announcement made by Senator Ko Ser Lu Htoo about gender-neutral language, which was then followed with the consideration of new legislation.
Senate Resolution #21, authored by Senator Alisha Hacker, was passed as amended. SR #21 intends to show support for a bill in the California legislature that, if passed, would tackle food insecurity by allotting enough money to cover at least 10 meal swipes per week.
Andy Wu, a fourth-year computer science major and chairperson of the Disability Rights and Advocacy Committee, gave a quarterly report. Wu said that DRAC is working on establishing ASL courses at UC Davis and working with the Student Disability Center (SDC) to establish a new satellite location in the Memorial Union, so that students with disabilities don’t have to go out of their way to get the help they need. The current Student Disability Center is located next to the International House.
After announcing his resignation from Senate on May 3, this was Senator Halawi’s last Senate meeting in his official position. During a public announcement, Halawi cited his reasoning for leaving the Senate, saying he was not happy with ASUCD and the Unite! slate. He also argued against a bill in Senate that would not allow resigning senators to have a say in their replacement.
“Even if I wasn’t leaving, I would not be a part of ASUCD because I’m really not happy with the executive team and the Unite slate in general,” Halawi said. “From a holistic point of view, if you take a specific senator out, you’re taking out the representation of other communities.”
Halawi then made accusations that Senator Atanas Spasov and President Michael Gofman are attempting to force out Senator pro tempore Jake Sedgley. He referenced an attempt by Sedgley to “hold the executive team accountable for not doing their job properly.”
“Atanas said I will revoke my bill if you vote Jake out,” Halawi said.
He ended his speech by saying that he has evidence of collusion, corruption, racism and transphobia demonstrated by the executive branch.
“As an insider on the Unite slate, I have a packet full of evidence, and I will be taking it to the Aggie for everyone to see and you both will lose your jobs,” Halawi said, referring to Branson and Gofman.
After Halawi walked out, Senator Jesse Kullar also announced his resignation, calling ASUCD “toxic” and saying that the job has taken a toll on his mental health.
“We resort to going to Facebook, make comments on chats instead of working together constructively,” Kullar said.
Since this announcement, Kullar has since decided to stay in Senate and not resign.
After these events, the senators took a short break and reconvened to confirm the Experimental Community Gardens Unit director. Helen Vanbeck, a third-year environmental policy major, was confirmed with no objections as the new unit director and said she plans to make the gardens more accessible to undergraduates and work on better communication between her unit and ASUCD.
Senate Resolution #22 was then voted on and passed as amended. The resolution intends to address frustration with the recent misallocation of funds for the hiring of additional counseling psychologists. This resolution is meant to force the university to give ASUCD and the student body an annual copy of an internal audit.
The general manager of KDVS gave the unit’s quarterly report. KDVS hit all of its financial marks and there are plans to split the general manager position into multiple positions with different foci.
The last confirmation was Angela Ruan, a second-year managerial economics major, as the Aggie Reuse unit director. Ruan said that she hopes to foster the community and continue educating people on Zero-Waste policies.
Senate Bill #72, which makes the Elections Committee a part of the Judicial Council, was passed.
There was then lengthy discussion and public comments on Senate Resolution #19, a resolution intended to support student activist groups on campus. SR #19 also denounced Canary Mission which, according to the resolution, “is a campus watch-list with a history of relying on student-given footage and material to target pro-Palestinian student activists: causing direct personal repercussions, including limiting their movement and employment opportunities.” The resolution passed as amended.
Emergency legislation was also introduced to provide the Mental Health Initiative Committee with the funds it needs.
Discussion on Senate Resolution #23 took place. SR #23 is an emergency legislation to help the Mental Health Initiative find additional sources of funding. The MHI was allocated $100 during budget hearings, though $15,000 were requested. The resolution states that the “ASUCD Senate shall continue to offer its support and to stand with MHIC staff and volunteers in what may be a long and hard fight with the UC Davis administration.” SR #23 was passed as amended.
No new legislation was introduced.
Public discussion occurred, during which time Branson made note of the drama in ASUCD and encouraged senators to try to be more socially cohesive.
Written by: Sabrina Habchi — firstname.lastname@example.org