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Monday, August 2, 2021

Feb. 14 reports: ASUCD holds Town Hall, Senate meeting

Action-packed Valentine’s Day with back-to-back open forum preceding weekly Senate meeting

The ASUCD Senate held a public town hall in the Coffee House on Feb. 14 in an effort to create a space for individuals to give feedback on how ASUCD could better represent the student body. The Facebook event page showed that 33 individuals marked “going,” yet the event was attended by only approximately 20 individuals.

Outgoing ASUCD Vice President Shaniah Branson began the meeting by reminding the participants of the UC Davis community agreements. She acknowledged that topics brought up may provoke mixed emotions and challenged both the Senate and the crowd to make room for all perspectives.

The town hall was not held to address any specific issue, but instead fulfilled a requirement in the ASUCD bylaws that the Senate schedule one town hall meeting per quarter. The open forum on Jan. 22 did not qualify as this quarter’s town hall because it was held to address a specific issue.

Branson passed the microphone along to each member at the table, giving senators and commission chairs the opportunity to introduce themselves. She subsequently opened the floor for any questions from the crowd.

The gathering started off slowly, with the dwindling crowd unwilling to step up and direct any of their questions to the Senate. Fortunately, one community member took initiative, posing the question of why students should vote ‘yes’ on the Unitrans Fee Referendum.

Alisha Hacker, the author of the referendum, elected to answer and began by explaining the situation that Unitrans is currently in.

“Unitrans is in a huge deficit right now,” Hacker said. “Somewhere in the nature of about half a million dollars. Without this fee increase, Unitrans would have to cut about 15-25 percent of their services, which would affect most lines, […] so they are proposing a fee increase of $13.33 per quarter.”  

She noted that around 25 percent of collected fees would go back to student aid, which would help those who may not be able to afford the fee increase. The rest of the money left over, Hacker explained, would go directly toward paying drivers, making sure buses come on time, expanding the range of services and even helping Unitrans explore the option of hybrid busses.

After the question was resolved, there were no other audience members who had questions at the time. A Google Form for anonymous inquiries was posted on the Facebook page the morning of, and after a brief pause, Branson elected to read one of the nameless submissions aloud for the Senate to answer.

The question was directed to the outgoing senators, asking if they had accomplished any of the platforms they ran on and if not, why?

Outgoing ASUCD Senator Jumoke Maraiyesa had a lengthy answer, listing one of her main platforms as promoting The Pantry and modeling it after the UC Irvine equivalent. She is also currently working on parking infrastructure and trying to figure out what ASUCD’s role might look like in helping with parking access. She admitted that no, not all her platforms were successful or had been fully completed, but she felt confident nonetheless because she was passing these projects down to trustworthy individuals.

Hacker listed her platforms as housing fairness, voter registration and the Unitrans Fee Referendum. She named several efforts she made to support each of these platforms, such as partnering with different student groups and writing pieces of legislation to accomplish her goals.

The next Google Form question asked about a candidate running on an executive ticket in the 2019 ASUCD Winter Elections. The anonymous individual claimed the candidate in question had made racist assumptions about a black student sitting in their car during the Downtown Davis shooting, allegedly stating they were a dangerous character even though the suspect was white.

The question was directed specifically to Hacker, for the candidate in question was her running partner, Sydney Hack. A subsequent question asked the entire slate how they planned to protect black students.

Hacker said the messages the question referred to were sent in a sorority group chat that she wasn’t a part of. She went on to say that if Hack was present at the meeting, she would likely apologize for the wording of her texts because they were taken out of context. Hacker said her running partner is a kind, good-hearted person and is only trying to work to make UC Davis a better place.

The rest of the Senate replied that they would be better at representing minorities in the future.

After the town hall concluded, the Senators moved upstairs to the Mee Room to start their weekly Senate meeting. Branson called the meeting to order at 7:22 p.m.

The meeting began with the Bike Barn’s quarterly report. Student-employees Jacob Wagner and Oscar McBain described sales from the Winter Quarter, noting that there was a slight dip compared to last year, but they are expecting an increase near the end of the season to compensate.

They also emphasized a shift in focus from bike sales to promoting different accessories and stocking the store with products that will fit their customers’ needs.

Next, the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) gave a brief report on their status. They stressed their efforts to collaborate with other units, such as the Campus Center for the Environment (CCE) and the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Committee (ECAC). Tinka Peterka, a representative for WEF, also noted that the organization applied for a grant to light the festival with solar lights as opposed to the diesel floodlights they used last year.

WEF also answered several questions about the stage situation, including what the plans were for the old stage’s disposal and how much they were planning on renting the new one out for.

The organization has a storage facility on campus for the old stage and they have yet to determine how much the rental price for the new stage will be.

Following WEF’s quarterly report came the Academic Affairs Commission (AAC) quarterly report, headed by Justin Hurst and Vanessa Fukuchi.

They spoke about several different initiatives they had planned, including a courtyard study space renovation, a sexual assault prevention project and the pilot American Sign Language (ASL) classes currently underway at UC Davis.

The Gender and Sexuality Commission (GASC) member confirmations were supposed to take place following the AAC’s report, but were cancelled and pushed to the following meeting.

Then, Branson took charge of the meeting — not as vice president, but rather as an ambassador for the UC Advocacy Network (UCAN). UCAN is a group of students and faculty that represent each UC with the purpose of providing adequate support for each student. They review funding and budget proposals and push for higher graduation rates.

A break was then held at 8:16 p.m., and the meeting resumed promptly at 8:30 p.m.

SB #38, an ASUCD Senate Bill to ensure the director of Creative Media makes the decision regarding designs of all ASUCD logos, symbols or icons was read aloud and withdrawn.

SB #46, an ASUCD Senate Bill to allow for unlimited deferments during confirmation hearings, was read aloud and withdrawn.

SB #53, an ASUCD Senate Bill to establish the Public Opinion Task Force Committee, was read aloud with a public discussion following. Senate decided to strike the word ‘committee’ from the title. They also decided that once the task force obtains opinions, they can use this data and translate it into an action plan, such as hosting a town hall. SB #53 was passed as amended.

SB #55, an ASUCD Senate Bill to clarify and revise ex-officio membership of ASUCD Commissions in Chapter Two of the Bylaws, passed as amended.

SB #56, an ASUCD Senate Bill to amend Chapter Two of the ASUCD Police Accountability Commission Representative to serve as an ex-officio member of the External Affairs Commission, passed as amended.

New legislation introduced consisted of SB #57, an ASUCD Senate Bill to remove references to the Student-Police Relations Committee from the Bylaws and SB #58, an ASUCD Senate Bill to allocate $2983.00 for Student Transportation Services to purchase new surveillance and dash cameras for their four vehicles.

There was a brief public discussion regarding Willie McCoy, a young black man from Vallejo, who was shot and killed in his car by six police officers who claimed he was reaching for his gun. Nayzack Wali-Ali, commission chair for the External Affairs Commission, said she brought this up to send condolences to his family and address how police brutality may affect individuals differently.

ECAC Commission Chair Rina Singh announced her commission’s event Pass the Plate, which has since occured on Feb. 19, and served as a space where students from historically marginalized backgrounds could meet to have conversations.

A 17 second moment of silence was then held for the 17 people who lost their lives in the Parkland, Fla. shooting, per Hacker’s request.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:39 p.m.

Written by: CLAIRE DODD — campus@theaggie.org

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