Nov. 5 ASUCD Senate meeting appears to have occurred unconstitutionally

Nov. 5 ASUCD Senate meeting appears to have occurred unconstitutionally

Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE

The judicial chair position remained unfilled for the fifth consecutive week which, according to the constitution, means that the Senate cannot meet for official business until the chair is confirmed

The Nov. 5 ASUCD Senate meeting was called to order at 6:10 p.m. by Senator Amanjot Gandhoke, who was substituting for Vice President Emily Barneond. Senator Gandhoke asked for the nominations of temporary Senate pro tempore, after which Senator Samantha Boudaie quickly stepped in, nominating herself because of her experience and the ability to get through the meeting “as quickly as possible.” 

An important topic of discussion then began when Gandhoke continued the meeting in judicial chair documentation of Week 5, a move that goes against the ASUCD constitution. The constitution requires the Senate to fill the judicial chair position within four weeks of vacancy before continuing to normal proceedings. 

President Kyle Krueger, part of the reviewing committee, presented the reviewing committee’s nominee for the next judicial chair position. The nominee was not present at the meeting. 

“[A] majority of the committee found her to be the most qualified candidate who applied to the position’s  particular applicant pool,” Krueger said. “[The nominee] had an impressive resume.”

Some key points in the nominee’s resume included interning with Congressman Josh Harder, working as an orientation leader—which Krueger said made them “knowledgeable about the day-to-day issues facing students”—and leading a team for the Culture C.O.-O.P.

Senator Roberto Rodriguez Ibarra, however, did not agree with this candidate being proposed. 

“As most of you know, I was an independent candidate, meaning I did not have any affiliation with any political [slate] at UC Davis,” Ibarra said. “Lately I’ve been noticing how corrupt some people are at interviews and that is the main reason I don’t go to interviews, because most of the time they already know who they are going to hire, which is mostly their friends, which is quite unfair because oftentimes they are unqualified.” 

Ibarra said that while some people may learn fast on the job, he does not think this applies to the nominated candidate, citing her lack of knowledge on the bylaws or constitution. 

“Since this is a chair position, I feel we need someone qualified and with previous experience and with understanding of our government documents,” Ibarra said. “When asked about specific duties of the judicial council, she only answered ‘binding rules.’” 

Due to the nominee’s absence at the confirmation hearing, President Krueger was asked by Senator Gandhoke if he would be willing to answer some questions regarding concerns of the nominee, to which Krueger said he could try, but could not speak for the applicant. 

Gandhoke then motioned for Senate discussion. 

“I would be really hesitant to give someone the confirmation without knowing their experience with the judicial codes and judicial council,” said Senator Juan Velasco, pointing out that the reviewing committee was actually divided on who to pick. 

Academic Affairs Commission Chair Navreet Hundal, however, expressed her disappointment toward Ibarra’s and Velasco’s comments. 

“When it comes to determining a person’s qualifications, they need to have a perfect and exact understanding of the bylaws,” Hundal said. “I understand there needs to be an understanding and I respect that, but for this to be a blast argument again and again, I’m tired of it. This person is a person and deserves to have this learning curve.”

Senator Mahan Carduny said that, “When someone brings up a nominee, especially for judicial council, I do not think there is much to go on except someone’s qualifications.” 

Senator Boudaie said that, according to the bylaw, the person must be present on the date of confirmation. Boudaie then tabled the discussion and continued with the meeting. 

The table then began to discuss whether or not it would be lawful to continue the meeting. Gandhoke outlined the process, pointing to a bylaw that allows the senators to override the constitutional requirement of not discussing any business if four weeks have passed with a vacant judicial chair position. Since all bylaws must adhere to the constitution and the judicial chair position remained vacant, it is unclear whether that bylaw should be deemed constitutional or whether the Senate meeting occurred unconstitutionally. 

Senator Gandhoke then motioned to postpone the nomination of the Judicial Council nominee Natalia Waid, a third-year international relations major, to the next meeting and Senate discussion began. The motioned passed and the table discussed quarterly report sign ups.

The Business and Finance Commission Quarterly Report presented on the current activities of the commission, including the review of SB #1, a bill to enact the ASCUD operational budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and SB #6, the Unitrans budget amendment bill. The report also included commission priorities and long-range plans. 

The KDVS Quarterly Report, given by General Manager Emmanuel Fernandez, discussed the recently-finished crowdfunding of $16-17,000, the highest amount that has ever been fundraised in UC Davis history. He also talked of the continuation of live programs through the MU and the expansion of KDVS. 

Ex-Officio Reports started with President Krueger, who discussed his submission of vacancies for various positions, meetings with administration on the expansion of testing for students and election events.

External Affairs Vice President Maria Martinez mentioned the meeting with UC President Michael Drake to support student needs and learning during COVID-19, crafting a UC budget supporting students and workers, reenvisioning campus safety and equitable solutions and creating a resource guide on Instagram. ASUCD Controller Alexis Lopez-Perez said he continued quarterly meetings of unit directors and worked on business practices with Business Manager Greg Ortiz.

Senator Annoushqa Bobde met with Athletics Director Kevin Blue to discuss elimination of the P.E. programs. Boudaie mentioned working with the Internal Affairs Commission to bring bylaw rework to the table, getting a comment box for the Senate website and beginning the creation of a seminar for Jewish students.

Senator Laura Elizalde met with Ryan Choi of The ASUCD Pantry to go over data, attended the election result debrief hosted by UC student association and connected with Martinez regarding UCAN, the UC advocacy network focusing on student advocacy at the state and local level. 

Senator Lucas Fong, who reached out to recommission Students Against Suicide, gave a presentation on Healthy Davis, the city of Davis’ Primero Grove quarantine program.

Senator Velasco met with the AB540 center in regards to the election, worked with Senator Lestor, Kreuger and spoke to AggieCompass about the lack of vouchers for DREAMERS. 

The Senate table then went into public announcements. 

Senate Recorder Daniel Wallace expressed his concerns that the meeting had been conducted unconstitutionally. 

“I double-checked the constitution and the bylaws regarding what can be done if a judicial council chair is not confirmed within four weeks, and what the constitution says […] is that there is no exception unless the judicial council chair is confirmed,” Wallace said. “The bylaw says there is an exception, but because the Constitution overrules the bylaws, […] that is why I believe this meeting is going unconstitutionally,” said Wallace. 

Kevin Rotenkolber, a UC Davis graduate and previous ASUCD Controller, confirmed that suspicion, saying that, “it’s basically full-stop […] this is a good time to realize the mistake and call it.” 

“What we did after not electing a JC chair essentially makes it unconstitutional to move forward with all those reports that we did,” said Gandhoke, adding on that all reports must be redone and resubmitted. 

Senator Gandhoke motioned for a roll call vote to adjourn the meeting, in which Senator Carduny seconded.  With a vote of 8-1-3, the Senate chose to adjourn. 

Written by: Annette Campos — campus@theaggie.org 

Correction: The original version of this article referred to Kevin Rotenkolber as an ASUCD senator. The article has been updated to correct this error.