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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Senators raise concerns about election bias at April 27 meeting

Following several confirmations, quarterly reports and legislation deliberations, senators discuss their concerns regarding election biases during the ASUCD spring elections 

 

By LILY FREEMAN — campus@theaggie.org 

 

Vice President JT Eden called the April 27 Senate meeting to order at 6:10 p.m. After roll call, he read the UC Davis Land Acknowledgement.

Next, the Sustainability and Career Fair Committee confirmed Jordyn Kosai, a third-year sustainable and environmental design major, as the new committee chair. Jonathan Ng, a first-year political science major, Angelina Chen, a second-year communication major, and Eliana Avalos, a second-year psychology and Chicana and Chicano studies double major, were then confirmed as committee members to the Aggie Mentors Committee.

Following these confirmations, Picnic Day Director Jesse Goodman, a third-year economics major, and Vice Chair Bradford Martin, a second-year economics and psychology double major, presented their quarterly report. 

“Picnic Day 109 was a huge success,” Martin said. “We had high attendance, with around 60,000 people all over campus, hundreds of events and hundreds of volunteers.” 

Goodman said that the unit’s ideas to improve Picnic Day moving forward are increasing the number of bathrooms available to the public to reduce lines and minimizing the rising costs of events on campus for every community member to enjoy. 

Next, The California Aggie presented its quarterly report. Sophie Dewees, a fourth-year economics major and the editor-in-chief of The California Aggie, and Katie DeBenedetti, a fourth-year political science major and the managing editor of The California Aggie, gave the report. 

Dewees outlined the publication’s recent accomplishments, such as the increase in the publication’s social media presence, which includes the creation of a humor Instagram page and a new weekly podcast, “The Aggie’s Weekly Roundup,” where top headlines from a given week will be discussed. Additionally, Dewees highlighted that The California Aggie now publishes Spanish translations of some articles in collaboration with a Spanish class on campus. 

The External Affairs Commission (EAC) then went on to provide its quarterly report. Daniel Mojica, the chair of the commission, explained what the commission has accomplished this quarter. 

Mojica said that recent accomplishments of the EAC include pursuing city council and local school connections, partnering with the Student Advocate Office and increasing social media activity. The EAC is currently working toward its Advocacy Week, an event mainly composed of tabling on campus throughout the first week of May, with each day focusing on a different aspect of advocacy. 

Following quarterly reports, the Senate moved on to consider legislation. 

SB #95, which establishes the ASUCD Pride Festival as an ASUCD unit, passed unanimously. 

SB #101, which is emergency legislation to authorize a transfer of $3,000 from the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) equipment rentals line item to the WEF equipment purchases line item, and $2,000 from the WEF SecurityAggieHost line item to the WEF Chaos Control Foods line item, passed unanimously. 

SB #96, which establishes a new unit called the ASUCD Innovation and Research Lab, passed unanimously. 

Senators approved past meeting minutes and moved into open forum. Senator Jacob Klein voiced his concerns about potential acts of bias during the ASUCD spring elections. 

“The elections officer has clear ties with specific candidates, which is in violation of our bylaws,” Klein said. “The elections officer disclosed details about an email regarding a campaign with the opposing ticket. To share confidential information with the opposing ticket is incredibly concerning. Additionally, the elections officer shared confidential information about a slate prematurely with only one specific group of candidates, rather than all of the candidates. Ultimately, an explanation is owed to not only the affected candidates and members of our institution, but our voters. We deserve to have fair elections.”

Klein deferred to Senator Eustacio Alamilla, who affirmed these concerns. After no comments from other senators directly followed, and the table instead began discussion regarding other topics, Klein brought these concerns up again.

Senator Shrey Gupta responded. 

“I do not think that this is the right place for us to talk about this,” Gupta said. “I hear you guys and your concerns, but just think about the power that the table has on this. I think you need to go in front of the Elections Committee and the elections officer. The people on this table are also candidates. Before you speak, think about who you are speaking to. This is a waste of my time and a waste of the rest of our time. We’re essentially spending student fees of every single person here to just rant about how some people are getting unfair treatment, and none of us can change that.” 

Eden responded. 

“I am recognizing my bias, but I do think that a special sight hearing on the whole Elections Committee could be kind of sketch given how many candidates are on this table, including myself,” Eden said. “I don’t think it’s right to drag the people in charge of the administration of elections before the people who are seeking election for oversight.” 

Senator Stephen Fujimoto followed.

“I also want to note that just knowing the elections officer, I don’t think this was intentional or malicious,” Fujimoto said. “I don’t know what I can do to uphold the legitimacy or what can be done. If the people bringing these concerns feel that strongly that our elections are being compromised, then I encourage you to explore a closed session. I just don’t feel like I can do much as a senator, that’s not my role.” 

Klein then said that he did not want any election results to be published until these concerns were addressed.

After further discussion on the topic of election bias, with various senators suggesting limiting the communication and the number of meetings between candidates and ASUCD leaders during elections, Gupta moved to adjourn the meeting. 

With no objections, Eden adjourned the meeting at 10:02 p.m.

 

Written by: Lily Freeman — campus@theaggie.org