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Monday, March 4, 2024

Senate discusses workplace environment toxicity and answers community questions at Nov. 16 meeting

The meeting also saw discussion regarding the impact of the Entertainment Council’s annual budget being cut as well as the need for alternative sources of funding for the Equitable Parking Initiative

 

By MADISON PETERS — campus@theaggie.org

 

Vice President JT Eden called the Nov.16 town hall meeting to order at 6:10 p.m. in the CoHo. He then read the UC Davis Land Acknowledgement.

A quarterly town hall meeting is held at the Coho in which members of the community can express any concerns and get their questions answered by ASUCD senators.

One question focused on ASUCD’s plan to increase communication with clubs on campus. 

External Affairs Chairperson, Daniel Mojica responded.

“Now that I have a full team of people I’m going to make sure that these guys are reaching out to respective clubs that are most in relation to advocacy work,” Mojica said. “I want to make sure we are uplifting the transgender community. I want to make sure that their voices are heard.”

There were also several questions that asked about the allocations of ASUCD’s budget and how to access this budget information.

After the town hall meeting, the senators moved upstairs to the MEE Room in the Memorial Union to hold the Senate meeting.

Vice President JT Eden called the meeting to order at 7:38 p.m. 

After roll call, the meeting started with the confirmation of a chairperson and alternates for the Disability Justice Committee (DJC). Two members were confirmed unanimously.

Next, DJC Chair Miranda Phinney presented the DJC’s quarterly report. They debriefed their two successful events during the fall quarter, and talked about their plans for holding a “know your rights” event for students with disabilities.

Additionally, the DJC was allotted $15,000 for accessibility improvements on campus, according to Phinney.

After the DJC gave their report, Picnic Day Chair Bradford Martin, presented the Picnic Day quarterly report detailing the plans and changes community members are expected to see for Picnic Day 2024.

First, Picnic Palooza was announced as the theme for this year’s Picnic Day, and Martin confirmed that Sherry Ackenson will be the Picnic Day parade Grand Marshall. 

Martin then went on to explain how the new university accounting system has affected their ability to purchase goods for Picnic Day.

“We don’t know if we are going to be able to purchase things and it’s either going to take one week or a month to come,” Martin said. “We are all very hesitant about [the new system]. So with that, we have been purchasing thousands of dollars of goods in advance.”

Following the Picnic Day presentation, the Entertainment Council (EC) gave their quarterly report. They debriefed on the many issues they are having funding events after their budget was cut by $180,000 earlier this year.

Siya Pun, EC volunteer director, brought up the cancellation of Sunset Fest.  

Pun said that the event was canceled due to issues surrounding approval of the headliner and a lack of funds and staff.

“Our biggest question of Sunset Fest was the ability of acquiring a stage [since] getting a large scale stage costs around $10,000,” Pun said. “With the current budget, Sunset Fest would’ve been a much more scaled event with limited openers and they wouldn’t have been adequately paid.”

The EC expressed concerns about their ability to host future events like Lawntopia and Brianfreeze to previous standards, if at all.

“We need additional funding or we will not be able to have a Lawntopia that is comparable to last year or even years prior,” Pun said. “We have done as much reallocation as we can within our current budget… but we need more”

Many senators took blame for the difficulties facing the Entertainment Council and expressed a desire to solve the budget issue as soon as possible.

“Sunset Festival is already screwed, but you know what isn’t? Lawntopia,” Senator Binh Do said regarding the issue. “We can still make change. We can still fix this guys, we can still make up for the mistakes that we made.”

Next on the agenda were the confirmations of vice chairperson and alternate chairperson for the External Affairs Commission (EAC). Both candidates were confirmed unanimously.

Afterwards, Christina Smith, a third-year political science and public service major, was unanimously confirmed Aggie Housing and Transportation Advocacy (AHTAC) Chairperson. 

Smith said she not only wants to improve affordable housing and transportation, but also wishes to improve safety surrounding transportation to and from campus.

A new vice chair of the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission (ECAC) was then confirmed unanimously.

Following the confirmations, Kaito Clarke, the transfer student representative, gave the Office of the Transfer Student Representative (OTSR) quarterly report.

Clarke discussed OTSR’s plan to increase the number of social events for transfers as well as improving on campus child care for student parents.

The meeting then moved on to public comments where ASUCD Controller Allyson Francisco gave a report on the state of the senate reserves, specifically the financial feasibility of SB #8. 

“Unfortunately per the Budget and Institutional Analysis (BIA) and UC Legal, there is nothing in the UCD fee referendum that allows for Senate reserves, to create or allocate funds to cover parking for those in need,” Francisco said. “This is not my decision, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.” 

Despite the inability of the Senate reserves to fund the bill, other sources of funds are being examined such as using grants from financial aid. 

Senator Gaius Ilupeju said that resorting to financial aid is the worst-case scenario, and said he will first try to resubmit a bill to find a clean resolution. 

“I’m confident things will get resolved,” Ilupeju said. “I will probably be authoring a bill to recommit the $12,500 back [into the bill]”.

Next, Vice President Aarushi Raghunathan addressed her absence from the last Senate meeting. 

She said she was not able to attend after receiving large amounts of hate speech in response to concerns about her role in campus correspondence surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“I’ve been getting hate emails, hate DMs, hate texts on my personal number,” Raghunathan said. “No caller IDs yelling at me over the phone. It’s been rough. I don’t know who’s been leaking my number but it’s really not ok. I’ve just heard a lot of really nasty things and I’ve had to get excusals from all of my professors because I really can’t be on campus”.

Senator Gaysinsky then read the ASUCD Student Bill of Rights and said that he felt that the Senate had not been honoring this document.

“Unfortunately, I feel that I have not been afforded this right by some people here since the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza following Oct. 7th,” Gaysinsky said. “Members of this table have posted or reshared extremely dehumanizing language that knowingly or unknowingly promoted violence against me and people like me.”

Gaysinksky said that though he has attempted to share his concerns about this issue, he has not received any response or willingness to discuss the matter.

“Other members of this table have been completely open to working on projects with me before Oct. 7th, but since then rebuffed any form of collaboration,” Gaysinsky said. “We are coworkers. This is unprofessional and makes me feel genuinely unsafe while doing my job and sitting at these meetings. This obviously goes both ways. If any of you ever have any issues in any language that I have expressed please tell me. I’m willing to work past my differences that I may have with any of you. It makes it really hard to do this when I am consistently left on read when discussing really important initiatives or when a coworker calls me a valid military target, verbatim, due to my nationality.”

Senator Jacob Klein then spoke on previous allegations made by members of the Senate regarding Senator Gaysinsky doxxing Senator Nur Ambaw.

“We as a table should not make personal attacks that are not based on truth,” Klein said. “I know for a fact that Senator Gaysinsky did not dox anyone. Senator Ambaw being doxxed is completely unacceptable, and everyone at the table and in the UC Davis Community needs to fucking acknowledge that”. 

The possibility of having an open forum to discuss these issues more in-depth was discussed. 

Additionally, a plan enacted by UC President Michael Drake which allocates nine million dollars to the nine UC campuses to fund various programs that will support and educate students and staff affected by the Isreal-Palestinian conflict was brought up as a possible solution.

The Senate as an organization has been silent regarding the conflict, but discussed the possibility of making a formal statement.

After reviewing previous legislation, Senator Raghunathan introduced two new pieces of legislation.  

SB #29 is a spending bill for the lobby and was assigned to both IAC and EAC for consideration.

SB #30 is a spending bill for the office of Senator Antonio and was assigned to IAC for consideration.

The consent calendar was then passed unanimously, and senators went on to consider old legislation.

SR #3 which would support the use of increased funding to expand UC Davis’ collegiate recovery, was unanimously passed.

Lastly, past meeting minutes were approved and the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 p.m.

Written by: Madison Peters — campus@theaggie.org

 

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