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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Senate table takes extended break to attend community vigil during Jan. 26 meeting

The meeting also featured quarterly reports from the Whole Earth Festival Committee, Picnic Day Board and SHAWC


By RACHEL GAUER— campus@theaggie.org


Vice President JT Eden called the meeting to order at 6:14 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26. Senate recorder Rose Kazempoor took roll call, and Eden recited the UC Davis Land Acknowledgement. 

Next, the Senate confirmed Christina Smith, a second-year political science public service major, to be the new External Affairs Commission (EAC) vice chairperson. During the questioning portion of the confirmation, Senator Stephen Fujimoto reminded Smith that their position is a paid role and asked them how they plan to treat unpaid volunteers who work below them. 

“I’m not here for money; I am just here to be here,” Smith said. “[As for] the volunteers who are working with us who are unpaid, I’ll give whatever I can give and more to make sure their jobs are easier as volunteers and that they are enjoying the job.” 

Smith was unanimously confirmed. 

The meeting was running ahead of schedule, so the Senate pushed quarterly reports back until committee members arrived to present them. They instead gave elected officer reports, where members of the Senate table discussed their recent work and updates. 

Next, Carla McEwen and Maddie Dei Rossi, the directors of the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) Committee, gave the organization’s quarterly report. 

“Our staff is fully hired and we are in the process of getting [them] fully onboarded,” McEwen said. “We’re really proud of all of them.” 

McEwen and Dei Rossi also said that they have decided on this year’s theme but are keeping it confidential until the official announcement that is coming soon.

“[Now] that the theme is decided, it means that the poster contest is going to happen really soon so people will be able to submit their designs for posters and t-shirts,” McEwen said. 

Next, Student Health and Wellness Committee (SHAWC) Chairperson Hibah Shafi presented their quarterly report. 

“We currently have a super exciting project that has been in the works for over a year now,” Shafi said. “We are getting safer sex dispensers put up around the MU in the second-floor bathrooms.”

Shafi went on to note that though the committee wanted the dispensers to be in the first-floor bathrooms, which are typically more trafficked, the downstairs bathrooms had “physical restrictions” that prohibited the installation. However, they are planning to place signage in the first-floor restrooms informing students about the upstairs option.

The Senate then decided to break to allow members of the Senate table to attend the community vigil being held in Central Park in memory of recent mass shooting victims. There was a unanimous vote in favor of adding this extended break to the schedule. 

Next, the Senate confirmed two new members of the Research and Data Committee, first-year data science majors Maya Wiegand and Surangjana Sooraj, via Zoom.

After the confirmations, Picnic Day Chairperson Jesse Goodman presented the Picnic Day Board’s quarterly report. 

Following a break, the Senate introduced new legislation, including SB #50, SB #51, SB #52, SB #53 and SB #54. Each bill was assigned to at least one committee for further review.

Then, they moved into consideration of the consent calendar; SB #46 was removed from the calendar, but the rest of the content was passed with no objections. 

Next, they moved into the consideration of old legislation.

SB #46, which requires the Senate President Pro Tempore to present a quarterly report,  was amended and then passed unanimously. 

Next, the Senate discussed SB #47, which would allow non-controversial confirmations for members or chairpersons in unpaid positions to happen via the consent calendar, meaning that certain candidates would bypass the typical process of introduction and questioning at a Senate meeting before being confirmed. 

Senator Aarushi Raghunathan expressed why she is against the bill.

“I think that meeting people during confirmations is honestly very important,” Raghunathan said. “I have met so many great people from confirmations, and I don’t want that to go away.” 

Senator Zeph Schnelbach also opposed the bill, explaining that they feel it is important for the whole table to evaluate each confirmed member of a committee. 

“When we confirm [new members], we are making sure that we know that we are putting people in those positions that know what they are doing,” Schnelbach said. “I am all for speeding up minutes in meetings; however, I think that there [has] to be another way we can do that.” 

Fujimoto called for the Senate to consider other factors that this bill could improve. 

“I urge this table to consider not only the student fees that are going into the time that we meet but also that we respect the time of our unpaid volunteers,” Fujimoto said. 

SB #47 was passed 5-2-0. 

Then, the Senate approved past meeting minutes before moving into public discussion.

During this time, Fujimoto mentioned a future event involving Turning Point USA, whose last event on campus in October 2022 turned violent

“Turning Point USA has announced an event with their CEO Charlie Kirk on March 14,” Fujimoto said. “I think it’s really important that we prepare ourselves for this upcoming event [because] I don’t think it will be surprising if members of our community decide to protest. ”  

Eden adjourned the meeting at 10:37 p.m. 


Written By: Rachel Gauer  — campus@theaggie.org