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Davis, California

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Senate discusses transfer student representation at April 13 meeting

They also heard from concerned activists seeking support for formerly incarcerated students and confirmed candidates for numerous ASUCD positions

 

By SYDNEY AMESTOY — campus@theaggie.org 

 

Vice President JT Eden called the April 13 Senate meeting to order at 6:10 p.m.

The first item on the agenda was the confirmation of a new Gender and Sexuality Commission (GASC) vice chairperson. Hailey Porterfield, a sociology major who previously did advocacy work for the Center for Advocacy, Resources & Education (CARE), was the only candidate. She was unanimously confirmed.

GASC also unanimously confirmed first-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major Jay Chen and second-year English major Cindy Nguyen as new commissioners.

Former ASUCD President Ryan Manriquez then recommended seven new members of the Disability Rights Advocacy Committee. Six were confirmed unanimously. One candidate was not in attendance and therefore was unable to be confirmed during the meeting.

Public comments followed the confirmations, during which numerous members of the Underground Scholars organization at UC Davis voiced their concerns with the administration’s handling of funds. The Underground Scholars are a group that supports formerly incarcerated students and according to leaders in the organization, funding was recently given to public universities in California to support this demographic of students.

According to co-founder Axel Cominsky, the group has had conflicts with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and administrators from UC Davis, specifically Vice Chancellor Pablo Reguerin, who is in charge of allocating funding for this project at Davis.

“UC Davis was the only UC to not have formerly incarcerated representation at UCOP […] meetings,” Cominsky said. 

“We’d be happy to mediate [conversations with the Vice Chancellor] and ensure that the funding is appropriately allocated in a manner that meets student needs,” President Radhika Gawde said.

Following public comment was the quarterly report from the Office of the International Student Representative (OISR). Former Representative Keven Zhou announced his resignation from the role, which he officially left the day before the meeting. The report focused on how to contact the office in the transitional period between representatives — namely, through the OISR email

He also discussed the projects that the office worked on throughout the quarter. These include an Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) night market that will be held on May 19 and feature numerous AAPI clubs and the proposal of an LGBTQ+ international student support group.

Eden then gave quarterly reports on two committees within the legislative branch: the Scholarship Committee and the Volunteer Award Committee. Eden asked members of the Senate to encourage volunteers they know or work with to apply for the volunteer award, which will distribute 10 $250 awards to student employees during spring quarter. 

After the consideration of previous legislation, next on the agenda was elected officer reports. Senator Stephen Fujimoto met with The Pantry to discuss their system of supplying menstrual products for students. Senator Gaius Ilupeju met with Aggie Compass to work out a promotion strategy for the new UC Davis-sponsored Aggie Eats food truck launching later this month.

During the open forum, there was a long debate on where to hold the upcoming quarterly town hall meeting. While the meeting is typically held in the Coffee House, there was discussion about changing both the location and time in order to increase student attendance. 

The table considered having the meeting outside on the quad, but there is a 12 p.m.-1 p.m. limit on projected sound that prevented the change from passing. To limit discussion, a motion was made to decide a place through a quick vote at the end of the meeting.

Jahanvi Narwal, a fourth-year economics major and the chairperson of the Research and Data Committee, then gave the committee’s quarterly report, which summed up past and future projects, including surveys to see if UC Davis would benefit from a free textbook program and to measure student approval of the Equitable Access program.

Members of the Senate then moved to consider old legislation. 

Senate Bill (SB) #90, authored by Fujimoto, sought to allocate $7,000 to the CoHo as funding for free cookie coupons to incentivize student voter participation in the spring ASUCD elections.

Some members of the Senate table were concerned about scams, which would waste the money allocated through the bill. 

“How do we prevent students from duplicating the coupons?” Eden said. “I think it’s a fair concern. The only solution I can really think of is writing down their student ID number, but people were opposed to that because that’s a little weird.”

Other anti-fraud suggestions include writing students’ information on each coupon, making each coupon unique and asking CoHo employees to be on the lookout for fraudulent coupons.

“It’s a $1.25 cookie, and it’s a lot of effort to go through a duplication operation,” Senator Erek Leschyn said.

SB #90 passed unanimously.

SB #88 was next on the agenda; it sought to add a referendum to reinstate The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) sustainability grant program fee to the spring ASUCD elections ballot, which passed unanimously.

Constitutional Amendment (CA) #83 sought to make major changes to the ASUCD voting system by consolidating all general elections to spring quarter. This would mean every Senate seat would be up for election in the spring. According to the amendment’s author, Eden, this would improve election competition and give new students more of a chance to adjust to campus before running for a position.

Many members of the table opposed the change, however, citing concerns about “excluding” the freshmen and transfer student populations.

“This amendment is that first years cannot run for office under this proposal,” Senator Jacob Klein, who is a first-year student, said. “So I’m going to start by saying that while constitutional amendments inherently make alterations to the constitution, excluding entire categories of students violate so many parts of our constitution, and directly goes against so much institutional precedent.”

 “I think what we’re dealing with here is that the pros outweigh the cons,” Eden said. “It’s not true that first-year students could not run for positions.” 

After a long debate, CA #83 failed with 2 yesses, 6 nos and 4 abstainments.

The next item on the agenda was CA #84, which sought to make minor language changes within the constitution to match bylaws. One section within the amendment would make the International and Transfer Student Representatives voting members of the Senate table. Many members of the Senate did not approve of this change in an amendment labeled as minor. 

Gawde, who was in support of the change, made a motion to split the house and get a show of hands on whether or not giving the International and Transfer Student Representatives the ability to vote in Senate meetings was “a slay.” 

There was a call for decorum.

“We literally just argued how it was important that transfer students have a voice at this table,” Gawde said. “People rejected the last amendment because it was thought it was a limit to the voice of transfer students on the table, I would ask that you guys stick to that commitment.”

When it was argued that this part of the amendment should be its own amendment, Gawde made a motion to do just that. Another motion was made to limit the debate to 17 minutes on this proposed amendment.

Gawde’s proposed amendment failed, with only Senators Ilupeju and Leschyn voting yes. 

“I do not support the specific amendment,” Senator Shrey Gupta said. “Just because this is not a minor change and I do not think that it should be done in an amendment to the amendment. There are so many questions to ask.”
CA #84 passed without Gawde’s amendment, 11-1.

Finally, the Senate, which had already gone over an hour past its scheduled end time, returned to their discussion on where to hold the next quarterly Town Hall meeting. Ultimately, it was decided to make the “Memorial Union (MU)” the location, so that a more specific location within the MU could be chosen in a later meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:43 p.m.

 

Written by: Sydney Amestoy — campus@theaggie.org