Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE FILE
Senators debate “joke” candidates running in Winter Elections at meeting
The Jan. 23 ASUCD Senate meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m. by Vice President Shreya Deshpande. Senators Lyla Schmedel and Sahiba Kaur were absent, as was Business and Finance Commission Chair Filip Stamenkovic. Senators Juan Velasco and Samantha Boudaie were late.
Gender and Sexuality Commission (GASC) Chair Francesca de Nacochea said resolutions regarding gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus were being finalized and would likely come to a vote soon. Each individual then gave an update about their week, with topics including raising awareness about the Basic Needs Referendum and addressing the proposed tuition hike.
Deshpande then introduced SB #24, a piece of legislation clarifying the role of unit directors within the ASUCD Bylaws, which subsequently passed.
Senators then spent a sizable portion of the meeting debating the merits of Senate Bill #26, designed to regulate the ASUCD slate system and to prevent “joke” candidates from being featured on the ASUCD website.
As concerns have been expressed about ASUCD’s poor reputation — and particularly with the Basic Needs Referendum approaching during a time of extreme voter apathy — there is a concerted effort to clean up the website and present a more professional image of the student government. Thus, SB #26 stipulates that candidates running under a fake name will not be featured on the website. As Deshpande noted, SB #26 would also prevent these candidates from attaching themselves to slates before being vetted by slate leaders.
The majority of senators agreed that joke candidates need to be removed from the website. For example, there was recently a candidate who ran as “baby Yoda,” and another who ran under the name “F. U. C. K.” Others, however, expressed concern that the bill created too much red tape and overstepped the Bylaws, especially given the current lack of an election commission chair. Some felt that the problem was already solved by the fact that unserious candidates likely won’t be able to gather enough signatures to officially run anyways.
During the public discussion period, former ASUCD President Michael Gofman referred to the bill as both “redundant and counter-productive” and said that no one from the slates had been contacted about it before the meeting took place. Senator J.B. Martinez expressed his wish that the bill be enforced by an elections committee, and former External Vice President Edgar Masias-Malagon said the bill looked like corruption, “optics-wise,” since none of the slate members were contacted about it before the meeting that evening.
While Senator Mahan Carduny agreed on the suggested removal of fake candidates from the website, he also said proposing more regulations for slates wouldn’t address the “core issue of professionalism” within the organization. Senator Andre Spignolio expressed similar doubts.
Deshpande, as well as Senators Camille Randolph and Shondreya Landrum, expressed their support for the bill. Landrum said minority voters and voters of color are less likely to vote if the website continues to display “joke” candidates.
“Why would I vote for someone who doesn’t represent me and doesn’t take this seriously?” Landrum asked.
Carduny echoed this sentiment.
Ultimately, due to a lack of consensus about its stipulations, Deshpande tabled the bill. The conversation then moved on to Senate Resolution #8, which addresses the ongoing problems created by UCPath, the new UC-wide payroll system that was implemented at UC Davis during Fall Quarter 2019. Randolph discussed last quarter’s CoHo walkout in protest of UCPath, saying she wasn’t paid until this quarter, and praised the clauses at the end of the resolution.
Deshpande said the UCPath debacle was a result of “negligence” and “greed,” adding that they hadn’t been paid their stipend for Senate since Fall Quarter.
“This was something they knew was going to happen,” Deshpande said. “There was a directive not to prioritize student workers both on the UC Davis and administrative [University of California Office of the President] level. To me, it felt like they shrugged it off and said ASUCD was the only department that faced that much collateral damage.”
Deshpande also recalled university officials implying that, due to its current budget problems, ASUCD should not have financial autonomy. Deshpande called this suggestion “ridiculous,” as ASUCD workers were either paid on-time or received emergency checks in the event of a glitch before the implementation of UCPath.
“Student workers are the most vulnerable — they chose us for a reason, because they didn’t expect a class-action lawsuit,” DeNocochea said.
DeNocochea also said she was unable to make credit card payments due to UCPath issues. Carduny talked about a friend who quit their job on campus and went to work at Philz Coffee because they weren’t being paid.
“People higher up are still getting paid, but people who are paying tuition, who are paying what [they] receive on a daily basis, are not getting paid,” Landrum said.
Senator Anna Estrada also said she received an insufficient check for her position at the ARC, noting that the check was missing between $90 and $100, even after she verified that she was counting her work hours correctly.
“For students to be going and babysitting every single paycheck is unnecessary,” she said. “It’s important to address everything that students are being paid in the resolution.”
The resolution passed to the sound of resounding snaps.
SB #29, which makes the Office of the Controller semi-autonomous in the Office of the ASUCD President, was passed.
Senators then further discussed the current optics of the Basic Needs Referendum.
Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — email@example.com
Correction: A previous version of this article used an incorrect name and position for former External Vice President Edgar Masias-Malagon. The article has been corrected to reflect his correct name and position.
Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — firstname.lastname@example.org