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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Senate finalizes unit adoptions, debates naming legislation at Jan. 12 meeting

The Senate also heard quarterly reports from R&DC, HAUS, SSCF and Aggie Mentors


By SONORA SLATER — campus@theaggie.org


On Thursday, Jan. 12, at 6:14 p.m., Vice President JT Eden called the first Senate meeting of the year to order. He then called roll and recited the UC Davis Land Acknowledgement. 

First on the agenda was swearing in International Student Representative Keven Zhou, a third-year managerial economics major, and Judicial Council member Gustavo Pichardo Villasenor, a fourth-year political science major. 

The Senate then moved on to the election of the Senate President Pro Tempore for winter quarter. The President Pro Tempore, elected by members of the Senate at the beginning of each quarter, serves as the presiding officer in Senate meetings if the vice president is absent. 

Senator Zeph Schnelbach nominated Senator Gaius Ilupeju for the role, and Senator Stephen Fujimoto then nominated Senator Priya Talreja in the spirit of encouraging competitive elections. 

Fujimoto said that he nominated Talreja for her “passion and emphasis on fostering collaboration among table members and building relationships within the Senate and the student body.”

The Senate then voted, ending with a 7-5 vote in Ilupeju’s favor. Ilupeju was thus elected and took his new seat beside Eden. 

They then moved into senators’ unit and committee adoptions. At the start of each quarter, senators choose a few of each to work with more closely throughout the term.

Fujimoto asked to be assigned to the Election Reform Committee in order to share his ideas on how to make elections more competitive and increase voter turnout

Moving into public comments, Schnelbach reminded the table to check in with their assigned committees regularly and establish connections with them. 

Next, Chairperson Jahanvi Narwal gave the quarterly report for the Research and Data Committee (R&DC). The committee is currently working on building a website and administering a survey to allow students to help choose the name and design of the new ASUCD cow mascot

Looking forward to the rest of the quarter, Narwhal said that the committee is planning to create data visualizations and infographics from past research in order to make their research “more digestible and shareable.”

Annette Gutierrez, a second-year gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, then gave the quarterly report for Housing Advising for Undergraduate Students (HAUS). This quarter, Gutierrez said their main goal is to host a successful Housing Fair in February. 

Student Health and Wellness Committee (SHAWC) chairperson Hibah Shafi then recommended third-year political science major Sergio Bocardo-Aguilar, second-year human development major Julia Miller, fourth-year psychology and sociology double major Emily Gavidia and first-year biological sciences major Simone Subedi to be SHAWC members. They were all confirmed. 

Fifth-year environmental policy and planning major Alana Webre gave the Student Sustainability Career Fair (SSCF) quarterly report, after being confirmed as the chairperson of the committee.

SSCF aims to highlight career paths within the environmental field, and according to Webre, they plan to hold a career panel during week seven of the quarter featuring three to five professionals who will share their experiences in environmental careers. 

The committee is also considering holding a professional headshot photoshoot opportunity in collaboration with Aggie Studios and a professional clothing drive in collaboration with Aggie Reuse. 

Next, Brooke Isrow, a fourth-year psychology major, gave the quarterly report for the Aggie Mentors Committee, of which she is the founder and current chairperson. The committee is meant to provide freshmen and transfer students with supplementary mentors to help them find resources and navigate UC Davis. 

This year, the committee, which was created as a fully-remote program in 2020, switched to more in-person programming. However, according to Isrow, many people still seem more receptive to remote mentoring. In addition to this potential complication, Isrow said that the committee’s main challenge this year has been attracting members. Several senators suggested ideas for advertising.

Eden then gave a short presentation about how bills pass to help new members of the Senate better understand the ASUCD legislative process.

After taking a short break, the Senate table moved into elected officer reports, during which Eden mentioned that they are making progress toward getting microphones for the Senate room. 

There was no new legislation, so they next moved into passing the legislation on the consent calendar unanimously, including SB #43, SB #44 and SB #45. The consent calendar includes legislation that is considered uncontroversial and therefore doesn’t require discussion at Senate meetings before voting. 

SB #43 offers funding for three one-time stipends of $1,000 plus $88.80 in fringe benefit costs to three UC Davis undergraduate students upon completion of a new ASUCD Senate Fellowship pilot program. 

SB #44 allocates $11,988 to the creation of an Inclusive Fellowship. 

SB #45 allocates $5,220.59 to a social event called ‘Destination: Wakanda (A Celebration of Blackness brought to you by ASUCD),’ that will be held in the ASUCD Coffee House on Jan. 27.

The Senate then moved into consideration of old legislation, beginning with SB #37, which sought to change the Advisory Board on Engagement and Outreach into a committee. 

Fujimoto expressed concern about the creation of a new committee, citing the historic difficulty of fully staffing committees, and the unreliability of sufficient return on their goals. However, Schnelbach said that they “don’t think that staffing [the] committee will be an issue,” given that an outreach-centric committee would tackle “one of [their] biggest issues as a Senate table,” as they currently are facing historically-low voter turnout and low engagement. 

After further discussion, SB #37 passed unanimously.

SB #41 was tabled by the Internal Affairs Commission, and SB #40 was withdrawn. 

Constitutional Amendment (CA) #79, also known as the “Fujimoto Amendment,” sought to create an improved recall process to allow the student body to vote for a replacement candidate in conjunction with a recall vote.

The constitutional amendment was reintroduced after initially being up for discussion in the fall. The amendment now includes an exemption for the recall of the ASUCD President or Internal Vice President, in which case the replacement for the position will be filled through the typical line of succession, and an added turnout requirement for the recall election results to take effect. 

The changes to CA #79 were adopted, and it passed unanimously; it will be on the ballot in the spring election. While the document for the legislation was being modified, several members of the Senate table discussed the pros and cons of naming legislation such as the “Fujimoto Amendment.”

“A small gripe,” President Radhika Gawde said. “Why are we naming bills? And why are we naming amendments?”

Schnelbach said that he somewhat agreed with Gawde’s concerns when it came to internal legislation, but thought that public-facing legislation such as constitutional amendments could benefit from being named, as it makes them more digestible. 

“Naming legislation that we see on the table that’s a little more internal kind of takes away from the integrity of what it’s doing, in my humble opinion,” Schnelbach said. “I just think that legislation that we see, internal bills, should be straight, to the point, and silly names aren’t really needed. But I’m all in favor of said names for constitutional amendments to make them more digestible for the general public.”

Fujimoto said that he understood the concerns and appreciated the feedback, but noted that naming legislation is aligned with the bylaws. 

Senator Aarushi Raghunathan said that she also supports tnaming legislation in order to engage the public in what the Senate is doing.

“If I told my friends about ‘ASUCD Constitutional Amendment #79,’ they would tell me to shut up,” Raghunathan said. “If I tell them what it specifically is and have a fun name, they’re actually going to pay attention and possibly vote for it.”

The Senate then moved into approving past three meetings’ minutes after having adjourned early in the agenda during the last meeting of fall quarter because, according to Fujimoto, “it was getting late, and people were getting weird.”

Then, they moved into open forum, during which Gawde suggested continuing the tradition of passing a resolution asking UC Berkeley’s student government to change their name from “ASUC” to “ASUCB,” and Fujimoto requested that all quarterly reports be made public. Schnelbach suggested each senator additionally create “bite-sized” reports of their weekly activities to share publicly on social media in a more digestible format. 

Eden adjourned the meeting at 9:47 p.m. 

Written by: Sonora Slater — campus@theaggie.org