Lengthy discussion over Senate resolution condemning anti-Semitic fliers

CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Senate Bill to rename OASR tabled for third week in a row

The Oct. 25 ASUCD Senate meeting was called to order at 6:11 p.m. by Senator Alisha Hacker. President Michael Gofman was late. Vice President Shaniah Branson and Senator Brandon Clemons were absent.

Hacker, the senate pro tempore, filled in for Branson. An election was held to select a replacement pro tempore for this meeting only and Senator Sydney Hack was elected. Because Hacker acted as chair during the meeting, she did not have a vote. Hacker and Clemons were counted as abstentions in all votes.

The Senate first heard a quarterly report from Darin Schluep of UC Davis dining services who spoke about numerous happenings within the unit. This included the recent 50th anniversary of the Coffee House, the merging of the satellite staffs at the South CoHo and BioBrew and the choice of a new coffee vendor for the CoHo.

After Dec. 14, the CoHo will switch to serving ecoGrounds coffee after using Beantrees coffee for a decade. There are also plans for the CoHo to host a free, late-night breakfast for students on Dec. 11. The event was conceived of and advocated for by Chancellor Gary May.

The Senate then moved into public discussion to give time for Gofman to give a report about his meeting with the UC Council of Presidents. The council is composed of other UC student government presidents and UC President Janet Napolitano.

Gofman spoke about the body’s efforts toward standardizing police reporting procedures across all of the UCs and the advocacy the council is doing toward making sure that students’ basic needs are met. Gofman specifically mentioned an effort to have immigration attorneys available at all UC campuses; currently, the UC Davis School of Law is the host of the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center.

Stacey Wong, the unit director for The Experimental College, then gave a unit report. The main issues the unit is addressing this quarter are promoting publicity through social media and providing online waivers for classes. An introduction to electronic music production is a new class the unit is offering.

Emergency Legislation was then seen by the table. ASUCD Resolution #3 was authored by the ASUCD DREAM Committee. The resolution calls “for support from the Association and ASUCD President, Michael Gofman, to demand that UC Davis Administration immediately begin the active, open and nationwide listing for the position and hiring process of a full time permanent Director for the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center.” Edits were made to the bill to have it be directed, more explicitly, toward the UC Davis administration.

It was adopted without objection. Since that time, a full-time director has been appointed by UC Davis administration.

Members were then confirmed to the Business and Finance Commission, two members were confirmed to the Elections Committee and one member was confirmed to the Judicial Council.

The Senate then took up Senate Bill #X, another piece of emergency legislation. The bill would have allocated funds for the EC Gardens to purchase a new shed. A similar motion to this bill passed unanimously last year according to Helen VanBeck, who advocated for the new shed, because the current shed is falling apart and vulnerable to break-ins.

Senator Atanas Spasov was particularly critical of the bill and rejected the use of emergency legislation to fund this project. Spasov disapproved of the funding source chosen for the purchase of the shed. Ultimately, the bill was tabled without objection and the funding was not allocated.

A member from the University of California Student Association was introduced to the Senate by OASR Legislative Director Jake Sedgley for public comment. He spoke about being a resource for the table and advocated for Lobby Corps.

For the third week in a row, Senate Bill #11 was called into discussion. This week, OASR proposed changing its name not to the Office of the External Affairs Vice President, as had been previously proposed, but to the Office of Government and Community Affairs. Several senators were critical of this bill, including Spasov, Hacker and Ko Ser Lu Htoo.

“We have spent over an hour talking about this goddamn name change for the past two weeks,” Spasov said.

The bill was eventually tabled without objection.

Senate Resolution #2 was called before the Senate. The resolution recognized “the posting of anti-Semitic flyers on the University of California, Davis campus as a hate crime committed against students from the Jewish community.”

Senators engaged in a lengthy debate about this resolution, particularly about whether to amend an existing clause or add an additional clause that would acknowledge discrimination and attacks against people of other religious minorities. The addition of such a clause was first suggested by Environmental Policy and Planning Commission Chair Alice Beittel.

Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission Chair Rina Singh, Senator Jumoke Maraiyesa and Htoo were also in favor of adding such a clause. On a motion to divide the house to gauge support of adding such a clause, Maraiyesa and Htoo voted in favor. Seven senators voted against and Senator Jesse Kullar abstained.

Though there were other senators who had voiced agreement on having such a clause during debate, only Maraiyesa and Htoo voted in favor of adding one.

During debate, Hacker said, upon hearing feedback, she was unsure whether including an additional clause to acknowledge other religious minorities would be appropriate, and she stated that “we can pass another resolution on hate crimes in general.”

Singh referenced her Sikh identity as a reason for her support of adding such a clause.

“Is it too much to ask for another whereas clause?” Singh asked. “I feel like my community gets no representation.”

“A lot of things happen [in my community],” Singh said. “Hate crimes to the level that people get murdered […] I would personally think that it’s not too much to ask to just add that sentence that denotes inclusion.”

After the motion to divide the house, Singh objected the passage of the resolution.

“I am kind of disappointed because I feel like my community is also targeted a lot,” Singh said. “It’s not fair that you erase my realities and I’m feeling like that’s what’s happening right now.”

Maraiyesa supported such a clause because other resolutions had included similar clauses that condemned other types of discrimination. She also brought up that black students had also seen the fliers and had been affected by them.

“Other communities are also impacted by this kind of language,” Maraiyesa said. “There were black students who also saw the signs […] That is coming from a black student.”

In response, Spasov said the resolution “is against a very targeted attack on a specific community” and “if an attack on a specific community occurs we will write another resolution.”

Near the end of the debate, Maraiyesa said that she would be taking the issue back to her community.

External Affairs Commission Chair Nayzak Wali-Ali suggested finding “a middle ground.”

“I want to see both sides to this bill,” Wali-Ali said. “There have been hate crimes against my people. But if I feel that I wanted to be specific, then I can respect that. I understand where Gofman is coming from when he says that he wants it to be specific to Jewish students. I understand that. I think that if someone is advocating for the Jewish community and they feel that way, then we should also respect that […] I also understand it wanting to be inclusive.”

Senator Maria Martinez voiced her agreement with Wali-Ali.

“I feel like I agree with her on giving the attention to the Jewish community,” Martinez said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking away from that […] I kind of agree with [that] train of thought, adding in another sentence or another clause to reach that middle ground. I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and diminish it I guess.”

Hack stopped discussion for a moment to acknowledge the absence of a senator.

“If you haven’t noticed, Daniella [Aloni] had to leave the room,” Hack said. “This has been a really upsetting conversation for her as a Jewish student. She understands where we are coming from with inclusivity, but she wants to respect the incident that happened to Jewish students.”

Hack said during debate that Aloni was potentially in favor of adding an additional whereas clause and not amending a current one.

Gofman then spoke for the Jewish students on the table.

“Most of the Jews that are in this room have already stated their opinion,” Gofman said.

Beittel then questioned the support of a change to the resolution, stating that she was unsure if “that support still stands”.

Internal Affairs Commission Chair Jacob Ganz, who had made a motion to pass the resolution, rescinded it after there were objections from Singh and Htoo.

“I totally get where you [Singh and Htoo] are coming from,” Ganz said. “As a Jewish student, it felt like other communities had been talked about and we had not. This is our moment in the sun. All communities should get their moment in the sun. Ko, you mentioned that we might need to pass 10 resolutions. Then let’s pass 10 resolutions. That might be the best resolution.”

Ganz then remade his motion, and Maraiyesa objected to its passage.

“Let me get personal here,” Maraiyesa said. “Black students always have to share their space. We are just asking you to be a little more inclusive. […] We are in solidarity with Jewish folks, but we’re tired of always having to share our spaces. We do include other ethnic and religious groups as well. I don’t understand why, because I know it’s not about the what-aboutisms, but it just doesn’t make sense to not put that clause in. I’m not saying we take out the clause that specifically says, ‘Jewish students,’ that is also fine, but adding another clause about having other religious groups feel safe — why not? Because I can point to not only a Senate Resolution, but also ‘It’s Okay to be White’ when Palestinian students came in as well. Why not this one? If anyone can please explain.”

Spasov countered Maraiyesa’s reference to the Senate Resolution in response to the “It’s Okay to be White” posters hung on campus last year.

“[Those] posters were a very generalized attack on any community that hasn’t been the standard white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant,” Spasov said. “It was an attack on […] everyone under the sun who isn’t white […] This was a very targeted attack on one community and one community only. It is my hope that we will pass this resolution and that if it comes to the point where another attack happens on a community on campus we can write a resolution to support that community in question.”

Maraiyesa responded, saying while these most recent anti-Semitic fliers were posted, “black students also saw the swastika signs” and mentioned “the quick response” the Jewish community received and “the amount of support the Jewish community got.”

“And then on top of that, this is why we added it should be the same manner for other groups on campus,” Maraiyesa said.

Before the final vote, Maraiyesa apologized before the Senate.

“First, I will apologize,” Maraiyesa said. “It does seem like what I am saying is taking away from [the Jewish community] and I don’t want that to happen. I came from a very sensitive and hurt position, and I understand for this resolution, I am not part of the community that was attacked […] I am just apologizing for my reaction […] and there’s members of the community at this table, so I will be respectful of that.”

Singh responded once more, saying she was unsure why the additional reference to all marginalized communities could not be included.

“It’s a very difficult topic, it is, for everyone, and I don’t want to take that away from Jewish folks,” Singh said. “I can’t even imagine what the whole situation has been like. And again, I  definitely stand in solidarity, I just don’t understand why we can’t just add this one clause in which we just state — this happened, and we’re acknowledging it, we have been acknowledging it in so many different clauses, the whole resolution is dedicated and it is in solidarity with Jewish students.”

Singh then said that each community “doesn’t live in a bubble, we live together.”

“We’re affected by the same groups in the same manner,” she said. “I feel like my community doesn’t get representation at all in any discussion, I don’t think there has been a resolution condemning […] about what’s been happening with our Sikh community. I don’t want to take away the spotlight from — I just don’t understand.”

Academic Affairs Commision Chair Justin Hurst made one final comment on the resolution before it was put up to a vote.

“I obviously can’t speak for any minority community,” Hurst said. “Clearly the intent of the bill is to make the Jewish community feel better after the hate crime incident. So if this whole conversation that we are having is serving to be counter to that, and it seems like it is […] if the goal of this is to help the Jewish community, this conversation has had the opposite effect.”

On a voice vote, the motion passed with nine senators in favor and four abstaining, including Senators Bryan Perez and Simran Kaur.

New legislation was discussed. Spasov introduced legislation to outline the proper use of the Senate listserv and emergency legislation. Htoo responded to Spasov’s ideas of correct email usage.

“If you’re not comfortable receiving email […] I don’t think there’s anything I can do to stop that,” Htoo said.

Beittel suggested making a Google form to collect information on how senators wished to use different forms of communication and for what topics. Spasov liked the idea and welcomed the insight it would provide.

The minutes from the previous week’s meeting were approved.

The meeting adjourned at 10:33 p.m. Reports were shared via email.

 

Written by: Kenton Goldsby — campus@theaggie.org

 

Campus News Editor Hannah Holzer also contributed to this report.

 

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