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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The ASUCD Senate’s biggest mistake

Our student government’s lack of vision cost them a failed impeachment attempt

 

By MALCOLM LANGE — mslange@ucdavis.edu

 

This quarter has had an eventful start, with impeachment hearings being held for our ASUCD President and Internal Vice President (IVP) within the first couple weeks. President Ojeda and IVP Raghunathan were the subject of scrutiny by the ASUCD Senate last quarter who voted to impeach each one in a unanimous vote. From their official statement that was released on the ASUCD Instagram account, some accounts of impeachment are slightly vague. Their conditions, however, seemed reasonable enough to want replacements for the executive members who were not, according to them, performing their designated tasks efficiently. Bam, wham, Bob’s your uncle, right? It, unfortunately, was not that simple. The Davis College Democrats (DCD) made a post that same week calling out the Senate for their “undemocratic and unconstitutional impeachment.” That is a huge accusation to throw around — but only if anyone actually cared. 

The fact of the matter is not many students actually cared or even knew about what was happening. Obviously, outside organizations getting involved and commenting on the situation proves that students do care, even if it’s so they can support their friend who is president (yay friendship!). But if you are not in the vast minority who follow the DCD or ASUCD Instagrams, this probably went completely under your radar. This is because the ASUCD Senate didn’t see the bigger picture. 

The Senate did not advertise what was going on well enough, and it was one of the reasons the DCD called them out — a lack of transparency. Assuming that the Senate was not attempting a malicious power grab, they should have broadcasted this everywhere. It should have turned into a bigger deal, because what gets people interested in a boring school function other than drama?

Most of the students I interacted with, who do not read The California Aggie, did not know that our President and IVP were being impeached, let alone that we really had a student government. The ones who did know about the ASUCD had no clue what they do, or what the impeachment was about. Students who are not directly correlated to the ASUCD rarely know what they really do, and that is an issue. No one, outside those on the payroll of the ASUCD, cares about the inner workings of ASUCD. Sure, that is a bit of a generalization, but not by much. How, then, are you supposed to get roughly 31,500 undergraduate students to care about something that many of them haven’t even heard of? A disaster. 

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but if the problem gets fixed too quickly and too quietly no one knows it was broken in the first place. That should not be the goal of the Senate, because if they truly believed that President Ojeda was a bad fit for president, they should want more people qualified or interested in the ASUCD to help vote for better candidates. The best way to get students to care is when it starts to affect them. If the Senate wanted more student participation and to get rid of President Ojeda, they failed at both objectives. DCD was right, their impeachment was rushed. They impeached Ojeda within his first quarter as president, and didn’t let anyone simmer with the consequences that he brings in the role. The Senate should have let him be, continue to allow him to make mistakes, miss deadlines and drive the ASUCD into a nonfunctioning mess. 

Would this go against certain guidelines in the ASUCD Constitution? Potentially, since they must actively strive for an efficient operation of the ASUCD. However, as the Judicial Council does not seem to care a great deal if this is actually met, since they did not remove President Ojeda for failing to accomplish the tasks relevant to his office that would provide the efficient operation of the ASUCD, then that standard clearly is not very important within the ASUCD. 

Unlike President Ojeda’s failure to maintain an efficient operation of the ASUCD, the Senate will be aiming for a greater good — a greater involvement within the ASUCD and the community they serve, the students. The best way for students to really see what the ASUCD does is to show what their lives might be like if the ASUCD cannot function correctly. Budgeting issues regarding the CoHo or the Unitrans? Oh no, maybe they go on strike, making everyone’s life way harder. What will people do? Start protesting and blaming people, primarily the president especially if the Senate accuses him of not doing his job properly thus causing the strikes. The students will want Ojeda out in no time, and the Judicial Council will have no choice but to listen. 

Students will see how important the ASUCD actually is, and once elections come up again, all that needs to be done is remind them of what happens when someone not up to par is elected. This will create greater engagement and higher voter turnouts, which is fantastic. An added bonus is students will be more inclined to check in with the ASUCD if they actually participated in the voting process since they have metaphorical skin in the game — they will hope the person they voted for is doing well. 

This is all easy to say as an outsider to the ASUCD, and I know that. It is also easy to say since we are looking back at how the events unfolded and that Ojeda was not even impeached, making the whole thing incredibly stupid and a waste of time. It did make for some fun drama, but it could have had more drama for a better purpose. 

Is this idea of what the Senate should have done less than honest and slightly unconstitutional? Yes. But that’s just politics, and if it generates more participation with the students to the ASUCD, I say it will be worth it. But hey, that’s just a theory.

 

Written by: Malcolm Lange — mslange@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

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