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Friday, July 30, 2021

Legislation meant to help students during pandemic passes at first Senate meeting of the quarter

Senate pro tempore elections, adoption of units, Senate recorder confirmations among items completed 

ASUCD Vice President Akhila Kandaswamy called the first Senate meeting of Spring Quarter, held on April 9, to order at 6:14 p.m. 

The meeting began with Senate president pro tempore elections. According to the ASUCD Bylaws, the Senate president pro tempore “shall serve as the official representative of the Senate.” 

Senator Khalil Malik nominated Senator Shreya Deshpande for the position, while Senator Samantha Boudaie nominated Senator Juan David Velasco. Ultimately, Velasco was appointed as the ASUCD Senate president pro tempore. 

“I think at this time, it’s a really good idea to have a nice, fresh face to bridge the gaps between our communities,” Boudaie said when nominating Velasco for the position.

Following ASUCD Senate president pro tempore elections, Daniel Wallace, a third-year  applied statistics major, who recently transferred from Santa Barbara City College, was confirmed as Senate recorder. Wallace said he applied because he aspires to be more involved with student government. 

“I have a lot of experience writing about student government, creating balanced reports of what went on in the meetings and […] I also know about parliamentary procedure,” Wallace said. 

According to the ASUCD Bylaws, the Senate recorder “shall, to the best of their ability, record all matters and discussions for the duration of the meeting.” 

Deshpande and President Kyle Kreuger both recommended Wallace for the position. 

“[Daniel] is willing to go above and beyond to make sure that the recorder is not just directly transcribing what everyone is saying, but rather paraphrasing it,” Deshpande said when recommending Wallace. “[He’s someone] making sure we are succinct in our minutes, and is really willing to take the extra mile to sort of restructure what the [Senate] Recorder position looks like.”

After Wallace’s confirmation, the senators adopted different units and committees. 

According to Chapter 14 of the ASUCD Bylaws, each “ASUCD Unit must be adopted by at least one (1) Senator, but not more than three (3) Senators.” 

The table then focused on ex-officio reports. 

In her ex-officio report, Gender and Sexuality Commission (GASC) Chair Elena DeNecochea said she had been working with Free The Period California to write legislation for the Cal State Student Association. Additionally, she noted that GASC has a lot to accomplish this quarter. 

“Just with GASC right now, we have a lot on our plate about what we want to accomplish,” DeNecochea said. “But I have to kind of see where everybody is at with their safety and their help this quarter before we can move forward with all of our ideas.” 

External Affairs Commission Chair Shelby Salyer said she was collaborating with HOPE and the ASUCD Pantry to organize a webinar series of policy talks.

“They are basically just little presentations given on how to be more involved with ASUCD student government [and] opportunities in Sacramento, because we thought that student involvement in ASUCD needed a boost,” Salyer said. “We came up with different projects we could tackle while apart, ranging from advertising resources to online events.”  

Boudaie emphasized the importance of bolstering communication in ASUCD in her ex-officio report. She said she had scheduled meetings with different individuals within ASUCD in order to gauge the aspirations and accomplishments of the different units. 

Following ex-officio reports, three students — Marlene Andrade, a fourth-year linguistics major; Mark Murakami, a third-year cognitive science major and Gurteg Singh, a third-year economics major  — were confirmed for the Transfer, Reentry and Veterans Committee (TRVC), chaired by Maya Clark.

According to the 2019-2020 ASUCD Roster, the TRVC Committee “seeks to advocate for the unique interests and needs of transfer, reentry, and veteran students of UC Davis.” 

Hunter Ottman, a fourth-year landscape architecture major, was also confirmed as chairperson for the Environmental Policy and Planning Commission.

“What I’m hoping to do as chair, moving forward, is to expand the impact of EPPC across ASUCD, but also throughout the Davis community,” Ottman said. “I also plan on demonstrating leadership, but also provide guidance and support for commissioners, old and new, and actually achieving the goals of collective and personal goals.” 

ASUCD Senate Bill #8, authored by Emily Barneond and co-authored by Ashley Lo, was introduced. 

“We’ve been working on it for quite some time,” Lo said. “Essentially, it’s just to form some sort of committee among [Judicial Council] for any investigations of code of ethics, for any appointed or elected officials. It’s just for a little more accountability for our appointed as well as elected officials in ASUCD. We currently don’t really have any system like this. We also took some inspiration from UC Berkeley.” 

ASCUD Senate Bill #8 is “an ASUCD Senate Bill to rename Chapter Fourteen (14) of the Bylaws to “GUIDELINES OF CONDUCT,” and introduce Chapter Twenty-Four (24), “CODE OF ETHICS,” according to the bill

After about an hour of deliberation, the bill as amended failed in a 7-5 vote. 

Senate Resolution #13, authored by Deshpande, is “an ASUCD Resolution to contact Department Heads, the Academic Senate, and other academic contacts to urge leniency for issuing Permission to Drop (PTD) numbers throughout Spring Quarter 2020 in light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on course structure.” 

“The coronavirus has really impacted us as students,” Deshpande said. “This resolution takes from other student populations that are particularly disadvantaged at this time.” 

Academic Affairs Commission Chair Naomi Reeley expressed similar sentiments. 

“We want the Academic Senate to think about how every single decision they make right now, impacts the student body,” Reeley said. “We really need to remember that students are struggling right now.”

Senate Resolution #13 passed. 

ASUCD Senate Resolution #14, authored by former ASUCD President Justin Hurst, is “an ASUCD Senate Resolution to urge the Academic Senate to temporarily modify the Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP) in light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on course structure.” 

“This all started with a conversation with President Kreuger,” Hurst said. “There is something known as the PELP. Basically, you can take a quarter off as a student. This is a practice that is not widely known. But we both feel that this should be an option for students right now.” 

Reeley commented on the time-sensitive nature of this bill. 

“We all know that everything that has been going on with COVID-19 has been affecting every student at different capacities,” Reeley said. “We really need to support students that are affected by this bill. 

This resolution also passed. 

ASUCD Senate Bill #49, authored by Lara Ibrahim, is “an ASUCD Senate Bill to create the Student Sustainability Career Fair Committee.” 

“[This resolution creates] a sustainability career fair each quarter,” Ibrahim said. “We will be providing a resource to students, who have like-minded beliefs about the three-pillars of sustainability. We want to be able to bring forth an opportunity that was asked for by students.” 

Ottman was in support of the bill as well. 

“We will be hoping to bring in students from other backgrounds to make sure we are covering our bases,” Ottman said. “We want to make sure that we are being very broad in our definition of sustainability and sustainability companies. This committee is meant to bring in additional help and backing to this endeavor.” 

After public discussion, consisting of rhetoric advocating for more unity among members of the Senate and the appropriate use of pronouns when addressing individuals, the meeting came to a close at 11:51 p.m. 

Written by: Aarya Gupta — campus@theaggie.org 

Correction: A previous version of this article listed Shelby Salyer as a Senator. Salyer is actually the External Affairs Commission Chair. The article has since been updated to reflect this change.

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