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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Senate special session called to discuss attendance policy  

A majority of the ASUCD Senate called a special session on April 13, regarding Senators Sergio Bocardo-Aguilar’s and Sofia Saraj’s absences in regularly scheduled and special meetings  

 

By JENNIFER MA — campus@theaggie.org 

 

The Senate special session on April 13 was called to order at 8:20 a.m. by Internal Vice President Juliana Martinez Hernandez, who then recited the UC Davis Land Acknowledgement. 

Senator Harris Razaqi, who called for the special session, was absent without prior communication about his appearance at the meeting. 

The special session was called to discuss a violation of Section 902 of the ASUCD Bylaws.

“The ASUCD Senate expects voting and ex-officio members to attend all regularly scheduled and special meetings of the ASUCD Senate as specified in the ASUCD Bylaws,” it states. “The ASUCD Senate also expects all ASUCD Chairpersons and voting and alternate members of subordinate bodies of the ASUCD Senate to attend all regularly scheduled and special meetings of their respective body.”

Senators Sergio Bocardo-Aguilar and Sofia Saraj were in violation of the bylaws because Bocardo-Aguilar was attending meetings virtually on Zoom instead of in person, and Saraj was absent from multiple meetings. Consequently, there may be a closed session in which Bocardo-Aguilar and Saraj could be removed from the Senate table.

Aurora Schunemann, a member of the public, said she opposed removing Bocardo-Aguilar from the Senate due to his contributions over the past two years, which include hybrid learning and support to individuals who are immunocompromised.  

Member of the public Kayla Garcia-Pebdani opposed Bocardo-Aguilar being removed as well, as he is the only Latinx representative on the Senate table.

Martinez Hernandez clarified that neither senators would be removed during the special session.

Member of the public Adriana Leal shared a personal experience regarding harassment, where Bocardo-Aguilar was a person for her to talk to. She said he made her feel safe and provided resources as well. 

Another member of the public, Michelle Andrews, said it was undemocratic to remove Bocardo-Aguilar from the Senate since the student body voted him in.

Maria Martinez also mentioned how the removal would be unfair since the Senate has previously done remote work over Zoom due to the pandemic.

Member of the public Andrew Jeremiah Muench echoed the sentiment of unfairness as only letting Senators attend in person would hurt commuters, the international student community and those who have health concerns. 

Member of the public Jackson Clark Mills said it was hypocritical to punish Bocardo-Aguilar for attending meetings on Zoom when the special session itself was over Zoom.

Member of the public Calvin Wong also had a problem with the special session. He claimed there was a lack of transparency and he only knew about it because he is enmeshed in ASUCD. There was no public post to alert the student body about the special session, and it was also late notice. 

External Affairs Vice President Saishruti Adusumilli encouraged the Senate table to take everyone’s comments seriously as this was the most engagement from the student body in around six months.

Bocardo-Aguilar then spoke on his own behalf, saying he was not in violation of the bylaws as the policy did not restrict attendance on Zoom.

Vice President Martinez Hernandez then restated she was just doing her job and that a special session must be called if there is a violation of the bylaws. 

Senator Radhika Gawde moved the conversation to focus on Senator Saraj as she missed the special session along with the previous two meetings with no communication.

Senator Owen Krauss echoed this sentiment, saying that he only wanted a closed session for Senator Saraj, not Senator Bocardo-Aguilar.

The Senate table then moved to Senate discussion, where Senator Gawde motioned to have a closed session for Senator Saraj. The motion was seconded. 

Senator Saraj was contacted for comment by The California Aggie, but had not responded as of April 26.

Martinez Hernandez adjourned the meeting at 9:45 a.m.

 

Written by: Jennifer Ma — campus@theaggie.org

 

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