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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Discussion of ASUCD’s budget deficit and upcoming fee referendum at Dec. 5 Senate Meeting

Senate determines emergency legislation aimed at providing supplies for The Pantry is unconstitutional

Senator Shondreya Landrum called the Dec. 5 ASUCD Senate meeting to order at 6:15 p.m. with Vice President Shreya Deshpande and Senators Anna Estrada and Lylah Schmedel absent.

The meeting began with Senator Andre Spignolio unanimously elected to be interim pro tempore of the Senate.

Next, the Senate moved into elected officer reports, starting with Kyle Krueger, the chair of the Environmental Policy and Planning Commission (EPPC). Krueger explained that Camille Kirk, the director of sustainability, attended an EPPC meeting — each of the EPPC project teams had an opportunity to discuss their work with Kirk and allowed her to give them feedback. Krueger said it was a very productive meeting.

Gender and Sexuality Commision (GASC) Chairperson Elena DeNocochea said the commission’s last meeting of the quarter had already taken place and, therefore, many of the projects were ones that would be worked on over Winter Break and into Winter Quarter. 

DeNocochea said she is planning a meeting with the director of the health center to talk about the implementation of Senate Bill #24, which requires that all UC and CSU campuses offer medication abortions — commonly referred to as the abortion pill — on campus by 2023. 

External Affairs Commision (EAC) Chairperson Shelby Salyer explained that the commision is planning for next quarter.

Internal Affairs Commision (IAC) Chairperson Ashley Lo explained that, since there was no new legislation, there was no IAC meeting the week prior to the Senate meeting. Instead, the IAC focused on working with the Elections Committee. 

The Senate then moved into elected officer reports, starting with Senator Sahiba Kaur who sat in on interviews for the Sexual Assault Awareness and Advocaccy Committee (SAAAC) chair. In addition to other actions, Kaur highlighted the preparation she is doing for next quarter. 

Both Senators Khalil Malik and Camille Randolf had spoken with leadership at The Pantry and encouraged those on the Senate table to support the unit. Randolf also spoke specifically about expanding access to menstruation products and had met with John Gibson — who has been working on providing for students’ basic needs by spearheading the portable housing unit movement in Davis.

Malik met with the Executive Office to discuss the creation and implementation of an ASUCD-wide newsletter and discussed an ASUCD Senate feedback form that would allow campus community members to easily reach ASUCD senators. He is also working to reform a Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment bill he worked on during Spring Quarter 2019.

The Presidential Report was next. ASUCD President Justin Hurst attended a counsel hearing about the constitutionality of elections, a meeting about Aggie Square, a meeting about the upcoming ASUCD fee referendum, a recording session for the Vanguard podcast series and engaged in interviews for chair positions and personal assistants.

Hurst also attended an Executive Council Meeting, a meeting about issues with UCPath, a meeting with the Unit Relocation and Space Allocation Committee and a meeting with staff at The Pantry to discuss the fee referendum. He specifically noted the time he spent on the emergency elections held at the end of Fall Quarter.

Landrum then pushed the Senate meeting back into elected officer reports, starting with her own report, saying she held interviews for Judicial Council members and attended an Executive Advisory meeting focused on a discussion of UCPath — including communication issues and plans for the future. Landrum has also been working on a gala which will take place on Feb. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Spinoglio had a relatively slow week, but said he was excited to work with the new senators. 

Landrum amended the agenda to move forward with the confirmation of the Student Health and Wellness Chair. Alex Cohen, a first-year neurobiology, physiology & behavior major, said he applied for the position because of both his interest in medicine and aim to de-stigmatize mental health and substance abuse. 

After answering a round of questions from commision chairs and senators, Cohen was confirmed as the Student Health and Wellness Chair.

The Senate then moved into the Unitrans Quarterly Report, given by Unitrans’ General Manager Jeff Flynn. Flynn reported that ridership has expanded by 25% that can be attributed, in part, to the loss of ridership that occurred during the Camp Fire in November of 2018 when campus closed for seven days. Even with this factored into the equation, Unitrans ridership showed a 10% increase from last year: Fall Quarter saw a typical daily ridership of over 22,000 people. In late September, Unitrans saw its highest first school day ridership ever of over 25,000 people. 

“Put in perspective, that was what we used to see on the highest rainy day last year and years past,” Flynn said.

There have been zero major collisions this year; however, the greatest security incident in Unitrans’ history did occur.

“We had a driver who was assaulted this summer by a customer,” Flynn said.

Flynn explained that Unitrans has been working with UC Davis Police (UCDPD) to improve response times and said he was happy to report that UCDPD has agreed to respond to any incident within city limits, as opposed to just the university campus. Flynn said UCDPD usually have far greater resources than the Davis Police Department does.

On-time performance of Unitrans buses is generally declining as both ridership and traffic conditions have increased in the City of Davis. This is reflected in the numbers, as on time performance was at 93% this year, as compared to 95% at the same time last year.

Last year’s fee referendum is expected to provide an additional $850,000 for Unitrans’ budget. Flynn explained, however, that due to minimum wage increases, there will be approximately $700,000 in additional expenditures.

Flynn clarified that the fee referendum was intended to make Unitrans deficit-free in year two. Right now, Unitrans’ deficit is roughly $80,000 and is projected to be $270,000 by the end of the year. 

By early February, five new compressed natural gas buses will arrive, replacing buses bought in 2004 and 2005. These new buses “will hopefully be the last fossil fuel-based buses that we will buy ever,” Flynn said.

The Senate then moved onto the Picnic Day Quarterly Report. Picnic Day Chair Nicole Deacon explained that despite hiring complications, which set planning for the event back by two months, the board of directors has planning back on track.  

Afterwards, Salyer gave the quarterly report for the EAC. The commision is currently working on “bridging the gap” between students and student government, creating more transparency within student government and increasing student welfare. 

The Senate voted unanimously to confirm an undeclared first year as a new member of the Judicial Council and unanimously confirmed second-year managerial economics major Akhilla Kahdaswamy as the SAAAC chair. 

There was no new legislation, so the Senate moved into consideration of old legislation, starting with emergency legislation SB #17, introduced by The Pantry’s Unit Director Ryan Choi. The bill was introduced as emergency legislation because “of the priority in which we need to allocate spending from reserves to our operations,” Choi said. 

SB#17 allocates $6,192.36 for The Pantry for necessary funding for trips, advertisement and equipment, and was being introduced with the purpose of “increasing the impact of what The Pantry can provide through adding additional shelving [that] would enable us to use our space more efficiently until we can move into a larger space,” Choi said.  

In addition to shelving units, the emergency legislation also accounted for advertising expenses and other operational expenses. All those present, except for Senators Mahan Carduny and Spinoglio, voted to see the emergency legislation. 

Randolf spoke strongly in favor of the emergency legislation.

“I encourage the table to vote for this [legislation], as we have the reserves there for a reason — not just to sit on them, but to use them wisely, and I think this is a wise use,” Randolf said. 

Spinoglio, noting his previous position as the Business and Finance Commission chair, questioned why the bill was introduced as emergency legislation rather than going through the full legislative process. 

“For the sake of precedent, I am not comfortable passing a bill that allocates $6,000 from the Senate reserves to a unit without the Business and Finance Commision seeing it,” Spinoglio said.

Controller Kevin Rotenkolber noted that The Pantry holds the second-lowest operational expense budget at $1,070, while providing an immense amount of resources to the campus.

Naomi Reeley, Academic Affairs Commision chair, pointed out the importance of advertising, saying that with the number of students who suffer from food insecurity and homelessness, it’s hypocritical to deny The Pantry the extra budget when taking into account the budget for Picnic Day. 

”Picnic Day spends thousands of dollars [and, after volunteering] for two hours, volunteers get a free shirt,” Reely said. “These students [at The Pantry] are working for 30 hours. You can give them a darn t-shirt and they get to wear it at The Pantry and when they are walking around the campus.”

Hurst proposed that the emergency legislation be broken into two bills: items needed before Winter Break and items that could wait until after break. Choi agreed to these terms and, after considerable amendments, the bill was put to a vote. 

With five senators voting for and four voting against, SB #17 failed.

The Senate then moved onto SR #6, introduced by Krueger and written to support the phasing out of plastics on campus. Krueger said UC Davis was not at all on track for meeting the Zero Waste by 2020 Initiative and hoped that the resolution would have the effect of “calling on our administrators” and UC President Janet Napolitano “to put greater attention to this issue, since we are going to miss the zero waste deadline and need to ensure that we go zero waste as quickly as possible.”

The resolution passed unanimously. 

SB #15, which called for the creation of a Title IX Policy Task Force in order to combat federal policies which aim to limit Title IX of the Education Amendment Act. Under SB #15, the Title IX Policy Task Force would create “student-friendly” policies for the UC Board of Regents and the State of California to address the federal issues. The Bill passed unanimously. 

Constitutional Amendment #66 was unanimously voted not to be put back on the fall special ballot. 

SB #12, which regards a restructuring of the relationship between ASUCD commissions and committees and intends to increase responsibilities for commissions, was introduced. For committees, the bill was written with the hope of increasing access to the legislative process of ASUCD. SB #12 passed unanimously.

Hurst then led the Senate into the State of the Association, saying “ASUCD came into this quarter in a state of crisis — and we largely still find ourselves there.” He also spoke about the roughly $500,000 budget deficit accumulated by ASUCD, which threatens the many functions of the association.

“We have a long path ahead of us that leads to our hopeful passage of the fee referendum,” Hurst said. “Now we must fight to preserve and support those units that continue to define ASUCD and serve our students.”

Furthermore, Hurst discussed the ongoing issues related to UCPath. 

“Our ability to pay our own employees [and] our financial autonomy was effectively stripped from us,” Hurst said. “And these students, including many of us sitting here, have been caught in the crossfire. The timing of the UCPath rollout directly froze our hiring abilities, sending ripple effects throughout the Association.”

In regards to the Fall Quarter 2019 general elections, Hurst explained that ASUCD has “been posed with a complicated dilemma: adherence to the ASUCD Constitution while simultaneously lacking the infrastructure to do so.”

Hurst ended his address on a hopeful note: “Despite the setbacks that we have been plagued with this quarter, we have the potential to create lasting change for the association and all the people that we serve if [we] continue to work together,” Hurst said.

During public discussion, senators continued to speak about the budget deficit and fee referendum. 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:13 p.m.

Written by: Jessica Baggott — campus@theaggie.org

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