Thursday, January 15, 2009
Moghtader Charge Sheet
Request for an Expedited Hearing:
The ASUC Senate has already set an impending date for a recall election. I request that the Judicial Council consider this issue even before considering further practical issues regarding the recall election, as an election will not be impending if the Council rules that the petition does not meet constitutional requirements, as I argue below.
Request for Direct Judgment and Restraining Order against ASUC Senate:
On December 3, 2008, Nathan Schaffer presented the ASUC with a petition to recall Senator John Moghtader. At its meeting December 10, 2008, the ASUC Senate accepted the petition and set January 26-27 as the dates for a recall election. As I will explain in more detail below, this petition was constitutionally invalid because it did not contain a "specific statement of the reasons for the proposed removal." I am now asking the Judicial Council to rule the petition void and enjoin the ASUC from holding an election based on it.
The petition text is as follows:
"We, the undersigned students of the University of California at Berkeley, affirm the Campus Principles of Community. In particular, we enumerate our unwavering belief in the following:
• We affirm the dignity of all individuals and strive to uphold a just community in which discrimination and hate are not tolerated.
• We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities.
• We respect the differences as well as the commonalities that bring us together and call for civility and respect in our personal interactions.
"We find Senator John Moghtader's presence in the ASUC Senate to be inimical to these principles, his behavior in and out of the Senate during the past several months to be inconsistent with and at times in direct breach of them. We believe that he has persistently acted in a way that silences those who espouse views different from his own and creates an atmosphere that undermines the physical safety of students. We therefore do not believe that he is an appropriate representative of the student body in the ASUC, and we call for his recall."
Motives for the recall petition
The petition and recall effort is nothing more than a politically and ideologically motivated attack against me, Senator John Moghtader. I am the outspoken president and co-founder of Tikvah: Students for Israel, the largest and most active pro-Israel student organization at UC Berkeley. As reported in the Daily Cal, the idea for the petition and recall originated from Yaman Salahi, a leader in Cal’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Nathan Shaffer, the law student now leading the recall effort, is a member of Students for Justice in Palestine from the University of Pittsburgh. They are trying to eliminate my voice- and the students I speak for- from the student government. This petition seeks to punish me for nothing more than my beliefs and intimidate other pro-Israel students who share those beliefs.
Those behind this petition have accused me of various things through emails to student groups, blogs, message boards, Facebook, and more. None of them are true. They are seeking to gain support for this baseless campaign by spreading outrageous falsehoods and smearing my name.
Those seeking to eliminate my voice from the Senate make specific- although outrageous and false- claims about me behind the scenes and on the Internet, but the petition itself is deliberately vague to help foster and sustain the sense that I have done inappropriate things. The petition is not specific or explicit because there is nothing to be specific or explicit about.
I have not-and will not be- charged with anything, nor was I ever cited. I have never violated the Code of Student Conduct, nor have I shirked on any of my responsibilities as a Senator. All I have done is fulfilled my duties as a Senator and served the pro-Israel community as president of Tikvah: Students for Israel.
Because of the malicious lies being spread about me and the ideological motivations for this effort, the Anti-Defamation League is investigating the petition and recall effort for anti-Semitism.
If the vote were to go forward, the ASUC would be wasting thousands and thousands of dollars and setting a very dangerous precedent. It would be a disgrace to the ASUC and a blatant affront to justice. Outrageous sums of students’ money would be spent on a recall election for an elected official who is the victim of an ideological attack in its most grotesque form- trying to squash a point of view by eliminating those who represent it.
Fortunately for the student body, the recall petition must be voided because the reasons for removal are not specific.
The Requirement of Specificity
The ASUC constitution contains a requirement that a recall petition include a "specific statement of the reasons for the proposed removal." What does "specific" mean? State recall election law can offer some guidance. It suggests that "naked assertions" are not enough, facts must be supplied.
Because recall elections are expensive, disruptive, a potential means for harassing properly elected officials, and generally unnecessary, the vast majority of states (32 out of 50) do not allow recall elections under any circumstances. Of the 18 states that permit recall elections, 7 seek to limit such elections by requiring that recall petitions contain a "specific" statement of reasons, just like the ASUC requires.
South Dakota is one such state. Its law, which has been tested several times, requires that the "petition shall contain a specific statement of the grounds on which removal is sought."
In the most relevant case for our purposes, the Attorney General of South Dakota released an official opinion regarding the specificity of a petition to recall the mayor of New Underwood, South Dakota.
The petition stated the following as grounds for removal:
"Since his election to the post of Mayor in May, 1982, 'Lynn' Oliff has exhibited personality characteristics inconsistent with the office of Mayor in that Mr. Oliff has on a continuing basis harassed and intimidated residents of New Underwood contrary to the best interests of these residents and of the community."The petition thus offers two separate reasons. The first is that the mayor has personality characteristics unbefitting of his post, and secondly, that he has harassed and intimidated residents of New Underwood.
The Attorney General of South Dakota ruled the reasons given were not sufficiently specific, writing
"[T]he grounds relied upon in the New Underwood petition are general, not specific. It claims the mayor possesses negative 'personality characteristics' without identifying what they are. Further, the petition alleges the mayor has harassed and intimidated the residents of the city but does not describe how or when that was accomplished. Such naked assertions simply do not satisfy the statutory requirement."
Lack of Specificity in the Recall Petition
The petition text appears to put forward three reasons for recalling Senator Moghtader. As in the New Underwood petition, all of these reasons are "naked assertions" without specific facts.
The first is that the petitioners "find John Moghtader's presence in the ASUC Senate is inimical to [the principles enumerated above], his behavior in and out of the Senate during the past several months to be inconsistent with and at times in direct breach of them." This, of course, is not a specific reason. The text does not describe any particular behavior that is inconsistent with or in breach of any of the principles they set out. In fact, it claims that the Senator’s mere existence ("presence") in the Senate is somehow a violation.
The second is that the petitioners "believe" Moghtader has "persistently acted in a way that silences" opponents. Again, the text does not include even one specific case in which Senator Moghtader acted in a way to silence opponents, let alone a series of specific examples that would constitute "persistently" acting that way.
The third reason is that petitioners "believe" Moghtader has persistently acted in a way that "creates an atmosphere that undermines physical safety of students." Again, this is not a specific reason. The text doesn’t say when or how Senator Moghtader created such an atmosphere, for instance, because no such specifics actually exist. The text, like the New Underwood petition, is devoid of any specifics whatsoever.
In short, both the New Underwood and this petition cite vague personality shortcomings and of the targeted elected official without identifying precisely what they are. The mayor of Underwood supposedly has personality traits unbecoming of a mayor, but the petition text doesn’t say what they are. Moghtader’s mere presence, according to the authors of the petition, has supposedly violated a set of general principles, but the text doesn’t point out how.
And both petitions make unspecified claims about the behavior of the elected official. For the mayor of Underwood it’s his harassment and intimidation of residents. For Moghtader it’s his behavior that violates a set of principles, actions that silence opponents and actions that create an atmosphere that undermines safety.
Regarding the petition against the mayor of Underwood, the Attorney General of South Dakota ruled that to meet the specificity requirement, these allegations must include a description of "how or when" such behavior was accomplished. Because the petition against Moghtader does not include a description of how or when he engaged in any of the behavior it accuses him of, The Judicial Council ought to reach the same result.
The recall petition’s use of vague innuendos rather than specific facts about my behavior suggests that the recall campaign against me is simply crude political harassment designed to punish me for my pro-Israel views, rather than anything to do with my performance in office. Enforcing the "specific reasons" requirement will force the recall petitioners to either (a) replace these innuendos with factual assertions that I can seek to counter or (b) give up their effort, which is currently imposing large and unfair costs on the student community.
There is a reason that the language in the Constitution says "specific reasons" as opposed to, for example, just "reasons." That distinction is not unintentional. It is a check on the otherwise unregulated recall process that could- in the absence of such a clause- serve as a vehicle for political or ideological attacks exactly like the one currently facing the ASUC.
Shaffer will not be able to produce convincing specific reasons for a recall, because there are none. I have not shirked any of my responsibilities, nor have I been in any legal trouble whatsoever. Requiring the recall petitioner to cite specific reasons for removal could thus make the difference between having a recall election and not, which is a crucial point for the judicial council to consider.
Especially given the politically charged nature of the ASUC, and the Berkeley campus in general, it is essential to protect students against ideological attacks like this one. Why exactly should Senator Moghtader be recalled? What specifically has he done? How and when has he acted in a way that merits removal? These questions must be clearly and specifically answered in the petition text. Otherwise, 1,000 signatures from students who want an elected official removed, for no reasons other than political, ideological, or personal disagreements, will lead to a massive waste of students’ time and money and a huge embarrassment for the entire student government and judicial system. Fortunately, the judicial council has the power to guard against this.
. . .
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The ASUC Judicial Council met at the request of Mr. Justin Azadivar and Attorney General Alex Kozak in order to consider and issue our interpretation of the Freedom of Information Right provided by the ASUC Constitution (Article XI, Section 5) with specific reference to the release of electronic files on the preliminary vote counts. In the matter at hand, the ASUC Judicial Council is asked to consider two questions posed by Mr. Azadivar:
1) Are the vote count files official ASUC documents or recorded information subject to the Freedom of Information Right?First, we address the question regarding the status of the records that contain the data concerning the vote count (hereafter recognized in this document as the vote count files). We recognize these files as official ASUC recorded information subject to Article XI, Section 5 of the ASUC Constitution, concerning the right to freedom of information:
2) If so, does withholding those files when requested until the initial tabulation constitute an "undue delay"?
All official ASUC documents, records, and other written and recorded information, with the exception of that involving personnel, litigation, or pending investment matters, shall be made accessible to the public upon request. The ASUC must furnish copies of requested information to interested students without undue delay, and may not charge above cost for doing so.We see the vote count files as official ASUC recorded information falling under the jurisdiction of the Freedom of Information Right. The data does not involve personnel, litigation, or pending investment matters and therefore does not fall under the exceptions provided for by the Freedom of Information Right. It is an ASUC record or document recorded by a computer and the Elections Council (EC) has control and authority over the elections pursuant to Article VII Section 1.A of the ASUC Constitution. We define "official" as being authorized or released authoritatively. The Elections Council, which is vested with the authority to record and compile these votes by Article VII.1.A of the Constitution, possesses the authority to make these documents official ASUC recorded information. These files become official when the complete vote record is generated after the polls close on Thursday at 11:59 PM (the last day of voting). The files do not exist before the polls close and are not put on a disc until after.
Having established that the vote count files are an official ASUC document subject to the Freedom of Information Right, we turn to the interpretation of the "undue delay" clause. We determined that a due delay may come from legal guidelines in addition to the practical restrictions referenced by Mr. Azadivar. Where the Constitution is silent or open for interpretation, legal guidelines may be set forth in subordinate documents providing for further regulations, as is the case for the By-Laws and the Judicial Rules and Procedures. With regards to the ASUC Elections, Article VII, Section 1.A. of the Constitution implicitly allows the Election By-Laws jurisdiction when not in conflict with the Constitution. Therefore, we believe that legal guidelines set forth in By-Laws and other ASUC documents can provide for a "due delay" under the Freedom of Information Right.
Attorney General Kozak brought up the issue of whether the good faith deadline represents a due delay. We have determined that the good faith deadline is only intended to restrict what cases the Judicial Council can accept and to dictate the Council's actions (Constitution Article IV Section 3), not to restrict the actions of others. Any other application could be outside our jurisdiction.
The Judicial Council feels that the By-Laws provide a legal basis for withholding these documents until after preliminary tabulation, representing a "due delay." Title IV Section 15.1.4 states that "After the preliminary tabulation, the results of the elections shall be released by the Elections Council Chair and the Attorney General of the ASUC as soon as possible." The ASUC Judicial Council interprets "the results of the elections" as incorporating the vote count files, as these files have been determined to be official and contains the complete voting record which will be used in preliminary tabulation to create the preliminary election results. The information contained in these files is thus part of the "results of the election" which under Title IV Section 15.1.4 of the By-Laws shall be released after the preliminary tabulation.
As we have established that the By-Laws may provide for a "due delay" through Title IV Section 15.1.4, as described above, we have decided that the withholding of these vote count files until after preliminary tabulation is a "due delay" admissible under the Freedom of Information Right.
. . .
Friday, March 14, 2008
SQUELCH! Press Release
SQUELCH! Political Party
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008
Berkeley, CA –-Today the SQUELCH Political Party announced its 2008-2009 ASUC executive slate. The party couldn't decide which way to make the announcement, but they did construct this list of the 10 best ways:
SQUELCH! Top 10 Best Ways to Announce Your Executive Slate
1. Once in a while, something so important happens that the entire world shuts down to watch it play out. The JFK assassination, man walking on the moon, the Berlin wall coming down, 9/11, and now, the announcement of the 2008 SQUELCH! executive slate.
2. Hi, we're the SQUELCH! Party and we promise not to walk you to class, EVER.
3. I mean, some people choose not to vote SQUELCH!, and some people turn up face down in strawberry creek; we’re not saying there’s a correlation or anything.
4. Barack Obama*, Hillary Clinton*, John McCain*, and Ralph Nader* all endorse us. If you don't vote for us, you’re voting against America.
5. Last year, SQUELCH! candidates committed themselves to overhauling the ASUC with their "5 steps to change" platform. With ASUC elections right around the corner, it is clear that we have delivered on their message of change, and we have the fliers to prove it.
6. We order high priced prostitutes on a regular basis. Have a problem with that? Don't vote for us. There's no way we're going to fucking resign.
7. We're going to climb that tree and we're not coming down until you vote for us!
8. Beer, money for student groups, free speech. These are all things we like. In that order.
9. This year the SQUELCH! Party has a full slate of executive candidates. But that's only because it costs $10 to run a single candidate, but you get 5 for $49.95. It’s a deal that we couldn't afford to miss.
10. The following people, listed below, are not running with Student Action or with CalSERVE.
SQUELCH! Political Party
Oh yeah, before we forget, here is the SQUELCH executive slate for 2008:
Running for President and weighing in at 457 pounds, Fred "Ladies get in Line" Taylor - Hochberg.
Running for Executive Vice President, the only person to climb Mount Everest in the nude: Chad "Superman dat Senate" Kunert.
Running for External Affairs Vice President, the person who will bring change, experience, and 20+ years of emotional damage, Joe "Bag of Goodies" Rothberg
Running for Academic Affairs VP, the person who discovered the cure for gingivitis, David "Ron Paul" Hollingsworth
Running for Student Advocate, a strapping young lad you won’t be that embarrassed to bring home to meet your parents, Andy “8===D” Morris.
SQUELCH! Political Party
The SQUELCH! Political Party was founded in 1998 by the three drunkest student leaders on campus. In their belligerent fury, they decided to break with the two-party system that had been established in the ASUC and form a quasi-terrorist, third political party, in order to look after the long forgotten smaller student groups, who so often get screwed in the budgetary process. SQUELCH! Is here to take your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and make sure that none of you get screwed over by the ASUC.
*Titles for Identification Purposes only :)
. . .
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Discussion on Executive Power
Report from the External Affairs Vice President
Mr. Montes said they had a voter turnout of 70%, which was amazing, especially for a primary. That was largely due to the External Affairs office. They were out there a lot and passed out hundreds of Voter's Guides and called over 1,100 people to remind them to vote and inform them where the polling location was.
Mr. Montes said he was featured in Time Magazine, which he was really excited about. There was a copy in Eshleman Library. The article was about young voters, how in this election it was now their turn, and how the youth vote will matter.
Mr. Montes said he would like to yield time to the offices National Department. Monica Thammarath introduced herself and said she was the National Campus Organizing Director. Edward Chow introduced himself and said he was National Legislative Liaison. They were there to give the Senate a brief update on the Higher Education Act. The office had a big campaign to get Congress to pass it. The HEA was probably the most important piece of legislation in higher education. It's supposed to be renewed every five to seven years but hasn't been renewed for over a decade. That coming week they'll mobilize students to contact their representative. The HEA would make FAFSA more accessible and would update the educational definition of hate crimes, including theft, harassment, and vandalism. The HEA would also provide crucial funding for programs that the Governor has proposed to cut, such as the TRIO program, which helps low-income students. It would also increase the Pell Grants maximum to $9,000, making it equivalent to what it was in the mid-70s, when it was at its highest. Even during the Reagan Administration, the maximum Pell Grant was $6,000, as opposed to the current maximum, $4,000.
Ms. Thammarath asked for a show of hands, of how many people wanted to go to grad school in the future; how many fill out FAFSA forms; how many receive financial aid; receive Pell Grants; and have taken out student loans. She said at least everyone raised their hand during one of those questions, or people they work with would raise their hands. The office was trying to mobilize people to encourage Barbara Lee to support the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The US Student Association sent the office a form, since Berkeley was an indirect member, a "Valentine's Day of Action," to send to legislators. One said, "Where is the love, Congress? Why do you keep on raising student fees?" Another was "Roses are red, violets are blue, pass the HEA, that's what students need you to do." Her favorite was "Roses are red, violets are blue, please pass the HEA, my rent is due." There were different kinds of Valentine cards, with space for individual messages on why this was important to them. There will be a letter-writing or postcard campaign they'll send to Barbara Lee next week. It would be powerful for Rep. Lee to see hundreds of letters from the campus saying that students wanted her to push this forward or to sponsor it. If any Senators would like to help them, they have a packet that contained an information sheet so they could answer any questions, a simple class rap sheet, a sheet to note the classes where announcements were made, and some Valentine's Day cards. They want to make this an effort that unites students.
Mr. Montes said he would strongly encourage people to apply for Student Regent and to attend the Regents meeting in San Francisco in March. They'll vote on whether or not to consider fees. He called for any questions.
Mr. Weiner said that Mr. Montes distributed material from the USSA, and asked how the ASUC was related to the USSA. Mr. Montes said the ASUC was not a member, but was an indirect member. The UCSA was a member of the USSA, and the ASUC was a member of the UCSA.
Mr. Weiner said that since the ASUC hasn't passed a bill regarding the Higher Education Act, he asked if they were working on it because of something for the USSA, or the UCSA. Mr. Montes said the office works on issues that affect students. The material they just distributed came from the USSA. The office was looking for information on this, and from their research, the USSA was the only student organization nationwide working on these issues. So the ASUC asked for help on the issue, since the HEA needed to be reauthorized.
Mr. Vartamov [proxy for Mr. Wu] said that since they don't have successful legislative change through poetry, he asked what else the USSA was doing to support the HEA. Mr. Montes said the ASUC wasn't a member of the USSA. But the USSA was having a legislative conference Berkeley students could attend, one of the biggest and most influential events for students at the nationwide level, who will lobby on these issues. This also helped the campus be aware of what the HEA was and how it directly affected them. One change would be to have a FAFSA application that was only two pages long. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired. Ms. Patel moved to extend by three minutes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Vartamov and passed with no objection.
Mr. Osmeña asked if they'll send the letters to anyone else besides Rep. Lee. Ms. Thammarath said she thought it would be more powerful as a campus to send letters to Barbara Lee since the campus was in her district. Ms. Thammarath said she was from San Diego, and they're sending the letters to students' representatives at other campuses. Mr. Chow said Ms. Lee was not a co-sponsor of the bill, and their goal was to get Rep. Lee to be a co-sponsor of the bill and take leadership.
Mr. Weiner asked if this was coming out of the UCSA position or the Exec office, as they weren't a member of the USSA. Mr. Montes said this was the National Department of the EA office, and was one issue they're working on. It was a national issue the EAVP's office was working on.
Mr. Seaty asked about proposed budget cuts. Mr. Montes said the Student Lobby Conference, which he's talked about before, will happen and students will go to the Legislature. The deadline for applying was extended to that evening at midnight. They're also going to the Regents meeting at which the Regents decide on the budget and will also go to Sacramento for the May revise. They'll make sure the office was at every step of the process, and ASUC Senators and their constituents were welcomed to join them. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired. Mr. Osmeña moved to extend by five minutes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Wong and passed with no objection.
Mr. Weiner said that ASUC elections were coming up, and he asked when Mr. Montes planned to introduce constitutional amendments to grant him and his office the powers he was currently exercising that weren't in the Constitution. Mr. Montes asked which powers those were. Mr. Weiner said he was working on what was obviously a political campaign, sending letters from his office to a local legislator that was not presented for the ASUC Senate, the legislative body, to take a position on. Mr. Montes said it was difficult for the office to do that type of work. But regardless, under the Constitution, he was in charge of supervising all lobby efforts. As for it being a political campaign, this was not an endorsement of a candidate. The HEA was non-partisan and directly affected students.
Mr. Weiner asked what he'd say to a student who felt a certain way on this issue. If the issue had come to the Senate, the student could have come out to speak for or against it. Mr. Montes said he was a little confused because Mr. Weiner mentioned ASUC elections, and he didn't know what Mr. Weiner meant by that. Mr. Weiner said he would assume Mr. Montes would submit a constitutional amendment to grant the EAVP's office the kind of powers it's been exercising lately. Mr. Montes said that if assumptions were made, people should talk to him beforehand. This conversation could be taken off the floor. And if a student wanted to talk to him about this, he would encourage that. Mr. Montes said he's been talking about the HEA since September. If a student didn't agree with what the office was doing, he would love to talk to them and see what could be done about that. At that point, he hasn't had any objection to this work. If the Senate felt he shouldn't be working on it, it could act on him as EAVP.
Mr. Seaty said he would like to thank the EAVP for helping to keep fees down and making college affordable. He asked if the office would work on this if the Senate said it didn't want him to do so. Mr. Montes said students would still mobilize if that happened, if not through the office, then by themselves. If students disagreed with the HEA, they should talk to him.
Mr. Osmeña asked if he could outline the arguments against passing the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, or talk about who was against it, and what the counter-arguments were. Mr. Montes said the HEA was passed in the ‘60s to make education more accessible and valuable to all students. Ms. Allbright said speaking time and total time for reports had expired. Mr. Rhoads moved to extend by five minutes. The motion was seconded by Ms. Patel and passed with no objection.
Mr. Montes said that that as for counter-arguments against the HEA, they dealt with its current form. Financial aid wouldn't be available for people who have been convicted of drug use. The bill passed unanimously through its committee and there was no major push against the HEA. If the Senate wanted, he could look into those arguments.
Mr. Vartamov said that in his opinion, Mr. Montes was clearly biased towards the HEA. But the issue Mr. Weiner was getting at was that Mr. Montes should not be able to promote his own political views. Mr. Montes said he didn't think Senators or proxies should make assumptions. He was looking at everything that affected students that was non-divisive for students. He felt the office should be working for the HEA not because he was strongly for it or because he was politically biased, but because it was an issue that affected all students. And the only people who would benefit from it being passed were all the students across the nation, regardless of where they might be coming from.
Mr. Weiner asked how he could act in a situation where there were a number of issues that affect students. If they assume that there weren't two sides and that these issues were ones that every student agreed with, there should be action. But he said that Mr. Montes didn't consult the Senate or solicit student input in order to decide among all the issues. He asked what Mr. Montes would say to a student who would prefer that action be taken on another issue. Mr. Montes said that if there was something an individual or an organization wanted to have worked on at the national level, the office would be glad to do that. That was one thing they lacked last year. They wanted to work on the national level on things that weren't being brought up. So they saw the HEA issue as a good opportunity.
Mr. Weiner said there were many local issues that students agree needed improvement, from rent to social regulation. When asked why he worked on HEA instead of another issue, he asked what Mr. Montes would say. Mr. Montes said he would say that the External Affairs Office had three Departments: Local, State, and National. The National Department was working on the HEA; the City Affairs Department was working on issues such as those that were mentioned in the question; and they have CAL Housing Director who worked on rent and on making sure people had heating, e.g. The office didn't just work on one thing at a time. If there was anything the Senate thought the office should work on, they should let them know and they would be happy to work on that. Ms. Allbright said speaking time and total time for Reports had expired. Mr. Osmeña moved to extend by ten minutes. The motion was seconded by Ms. Patel and passed by voice-vote.
Mr. Osmeña asked if he planned on coming to the Senate with any bills that would support campaigns conducted through his office. Mr. Montes said he did.
Mr. Seaty asked if he had a general feeling about how students on campus felt about their tuition and how they'd pay for college. Mr. Montes said it was hard to speak for every student. In conversations he's had, students don't want fees raised and they want financial aid to be clearer. If they mess up one thing in FAFSA, they're screwed for financial aid. They want money from Pell Grants that wasn't for just one year, and would like a packet every semester. They want college to be accessible and affordable for everyone.
Ms. Winston asked if he believed that the ASUC referred to the 20 Senators in the room or to the student body. Mr. Montes said it referred to students. Senators were representatives of the student body and were not the student body.
Mr. Kunert said he was being told his power in the Senate was being restricted. Ms. Allbright asked him to ask a question rather than making a statement. Mr. Kunert said he would request that matters that were the official stance of the ASUC to be put forward in bills and voted on in the External Affairs Committee. If the different Departments in the External Affairs Office took a stance on what might possibly be a controversial issue, whether or not the issue related to students, it should be voted on in the External Affairs Committee. Ms. Allbright said the question was whether Mr. Montes would comply with that request. That was her interpretation. Mr. Montes said he would. If they say something was the stance of the ASUC, or the EAVP, then of course he would bring it to the Committee. But nowhere did any of the material say this was the stance of the ASUC or the stance of the EAVP. It was just giving information and stating how to get involved. There was no real stance being taken.
Mr. Rhoads moved to recess for five minutes. The motion was seconded by Ms. Winston and failed by voice-vote.
On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Silver asked if all this back and forth and bickering could be taken up with Mr. Montes off the floor.
Mr. Weiner said he was bringing concerns forward so students could have a chance to respond. Ms. Allbright called for a question. Mr. Weiner said his question involved two sections of the Constitution he was concerned about. Article III, Section 1, "ASUC Senate," states that all legislative and final administrative authority of the Association was vested in and exercised by the Senate. Article II, Section 4, "Powers of the EAVP," states that one duty was to present the position of the ASUC. Mr. Weiner said that what he heard from the Vice President was that his office was going out and figuring out, in a sense, what the position of students was. That was a clear violation of the part of the Constitution that states that legislative power, the power to take positions, was vested in the ASUC Senate. Ms. Allbright said that was an argument. She asked him to please ask a question. Mr. Weiner said his question was if Mr. Montes' office was coming up with positions of the ASUC and acting upon them, or if he was simply presenting positions that were decided upon by the ASUC Senate.
Mr. Montes said it was neither. They're not asking or telling students how to think or vote, or do anything. This was information the office was giving them. Mr. Montes said he felt there were a lot of questions, and he would strongly suggest that if any Senators did not agree with the Higher Education Act or with the EAVP office working on the HEA, or if they would like an alternative, or would like the office to work on other issues on the national level, he would ask that they please come and talk with him.
Mr. Vartamov asked what percentage of Berkeley students supported the office's position on the HEA. Mr. Montes said he didn't know. All the students he's talked to felt this was a big issue. If it was just the office that thought this should be worked on, that was one thing, but obviously people felt the HEA deeply affected them. He wasn't saying 75% liked it, or that 5% of the Senate didn't like it. What he was saying was that this was an issue that affected all students.
Mr. Vartamov said that if he didn't survey the student body or the Senate, he asked where Mr. Montes was getting his information from. Mr. Montes said it was from talking to students.
Mr. Weiner said he was even more concerned after the answer to the last question. He was getting the impression that Mr. Montes was gauging the opinion of students before he took actions. He asked if the office was taking it upon itself to gauge the opinion of students on the campus and deciding to take action based on opinions, and not going to the ASUC Senate for such decisions. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired. Mr. Osmeña moved to extend speaking time and total time by 15 minutes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kunert. Ms. Allbright said that the vote of 9-5-0 met the threshold of a simple majority, but did not meet the threshold of a two-thirds vote. The EAVP's report was extended by 15 minutes. However, the total time for Executive Officer Reports was not extended. Therefore they could not continue with this report. Ms. Patel moved to extend total time by 20 minutes. The motion was seconded and passed by voice-vote.
Mr. Montes asked if Mr. Weiner could repeat the question. Mr. Weiner said there has been an implication in Mr. Montes' answers to a number of questions that evening that when his office decided to take action, Mr. Montes went out and gauged students' opinions and did that by talking to students. He asked if Mr. Montes' office was deciding to take action on things like the HEA, or anything else, based on his personal office's gauging of student opinion.
Mr. Montes said it was hard to say "personal office" because that's what the EAVP's office was there for, to see what students want and need. The reason they were working on this now was because it will be voted on next week. He wasn't contesting the Constitution, but was saying they need to have some work on this; and students were working on it. If the Senate felt the EAVP's office should not work on this issue, and that was presented to him, then he would not work on the issue. At that point that hasn't happened. He would rather people talk to him about what their office can efficiently do to represent students, rather than having these questions on the floor.
Mr. Osmeña said that in section 4.A. of the Constitution, when it says "the position of the ASUC," he asked how he believed that position was made. Mr. Montes said he didn't have the Constitution in front of him and asked if he could see a copy of the Constitution and what the question was referring to.
Mr. Osmeña asked how the position of the ASUC was determined. Mr. Montes said his understanding was to present the position of the ASUC to other campuses or other bodies outside the University, so it was to present the ASUC's position in places where he represented the ASUC, to his understanding. As the External Affairs VP, there's nothing about in this about what he represented. He wasn't a member or Board member of the USSA.
Ms. Allbright said that she knew that people were having a great time interpreting the Constitution, but the Judicial Council was a great place to continue this kind of discussion. The J-Council actually had the authority to interpret and enforce the Constitution and By-laws.
Mr. Osmeña said that as he heard Mr. Montes' answer for this specific project, it didn't fall under that provision of the Constitution. So he would ask where the authority of the EAVP was to carry on this kind of project. Mr. Montes said that specific section involved matters outside the University, and what they were doing with the HEA was working with Berkeley students. So that specific section wasn't involved. Mr. Montes said his job wasn't to interpret the law but to represent the students and to bring up issues that affect students. And this was such an issue.
Mr. Seaty asked if the EAVP's office has thought about taking a poll on whether students would like their fees decreased, or increased. Mr. Montes said they could do that if the Senate wanted, but the office already had a tight schedule. From what he was hearing, it seemed that the Senate wanted the EAVP to present a bill for everything people in the office were working on.
Mr. Weiner asked if he thought his office was a platform for his personal left-wing political views or an office that incurred a serious responsibility to follow and to work according to the Constitution and the rules of the ASUC. Mr. Montes said he didn't. The office was there to represent the student body. Nowhere has he ever brought up his agenda to the Senate, or talk about how he felt about issues. He brought issues to the Senate that affect all students. He had no personal engagement with the HEA and was graduating. He didn't agree with Senators saying how he was relating his political views to his office. Nowhere in the issues the office was working on was there a left-wing political view or agenda.
The issues were simply those that affect all students. All students may not agree with what the office was doing, and some may want their fees to be raised. He would appreciate it if the Senate didn't accuse him of putting his political views onto the Senate. That's not what he's done, and that was something he's really worked on that semester. It's the reason they work on non-partisan voter education. He's never told people how to vote or said how he was voting. And he didn't list candidates' events in his Facebook. When he made presentations to the Senate, if people felt the issues he brought were left wing, they should talk to him.
On a point of personal privilege, Ms. Patel said that she understood that Senators could discuss things in a heated manner, but there were students in the room, and she would ask them to please make it a more welcoming place. If that meant to keep people's tone of voice down, then so be it. She said that was not directed at anyone.
Mr. Weiner said there was agreement that the office should not be a platform for personal politics, and he asked how they could prove to the students that this wasn't about personal politics if the office decided to take action just by talking to students, and not based on the Senate, the representative body of the students at Cal. Mr. Montes said that since he was getting questions from one Senator, there might be some bias from that Senator, because Mr. Montes said he didn't get this resentment when he talked about voter registration. They informed students of what was on the ballot and how students could be involved in the electoral process. It was the exact same thing they were doing with the HEA, telling students about issues that greatly affected them and how they could get involved.
Ms. Ureña asked if students working in the External Affairs VP's office actually state that the ASUC Senate supported the HEA. Mr. Montes said they don't.
Mr. Kunert said it was mentioned that he represented students by talking to them. Mr. Montes said he didn't say it that way. Mr. Kunert it was mentioned that Mr. Montes gauged the position of students by talking to them. Mr. Montes said he doesn't gauge the position of students and talks to them to see what issues affect them, and learn what they felt were the most important things to work on. And the HEA was one of the most crucial pieces of legislation mentioned, especially when students talk about FAFSA and grad school. He never asks a student what they thought about the HEA, or propositions or candidates. They don't "gauge" those things.
Mr. Kunert said that Mr. Montes has claimed to need the Senate's authorization for a poll, and he asked how he could justify pushing a campaign on students without the authorization of the Senate for a poll, and extrapolating the pushing forward of a campaign without better information. Mr. Montes said hes never said the Senate had to ask him to do a poll. He said that if the Senate felt that the office should do that, they should make them do it. If the Senate wanted the office to work on that, Senators should talk to them and they'd make sure to do it. They want to do what was most efficient for all students. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired.
. . .
Monday, February 11, 2008
Activism in the Arts stage storm
From: Nadesan Permaul
Subject: Review of Activism in the Arts Logistics
Members of the Senate and ASUC Executives,
I was much moved last Wednesday hearing the glowing accounts of the event that took place two weeks ago last Friday, on February 1st; "Activism in the Arts." I expect the ASUC will continue to work with student groups to put on acitivities such as this. I want to draw your attention to the attached correspondence that I received from Cal Performances.
Just as the ASUC Auxiliary utilizes its operations staff to set up for events, and will go to Media Services or SUPERB for specialty events that involve sound and music, so the ASUC government should consider making it policy to require groups to obtain an assessment by such operations programs before major events are scheduled.
SUPERB is the event producer for the ASUC. It makes sense that they should have first right of refusal for the production of major events sponsored by the ASUC if for no other reason than they know the complex logistics of staging such activities. We have that testimony here from both Cal Performances operations staff, and others. I would also caution that ASUC groups cannot expect SUPERB to either underwrite the costs of major events, nor to subsidize them through funding. In the future, I will ask our Student Affairs staff to ensure that prior to authorizing expenditures for major events of this sort, that there is a discussion as to whether we have adequate logistical prep for it. We cannot maintain our relationships with departments like Cal Performances whose facilities and good grace we rely upon, without making sure we handle our logistics appropriately.
That said, I look forward to more excellent student events sponsored and hosted by the ASUC.
Dr. Nadesan Permaul
Director ASUC Auxiliary
Lecturer in Rhetoric and Political Science
Per our discussion at the oversight meeting yesterdeay, here's a summary of the debrief we had with the organizers of the "Activism in the Arts" event held at zellerbach last friday, feb. 1. Atthe meeting were:
Isaac Miller, student & event organizer
Millicent Morris-Cheney, ASUC sponsor
Giuliana Blasi, SLL
Tim House, manager of the group, Zion-I
Doug Warrick, Calperfs General Manager
Amy Ferrara, Calperfs event manager
Tracy Teel, Calperfs Audience services manager
The main reason the meeting was called was because, very near the end of the show as Zion I was performing, things got a little beyond our control:
Although there were no injuries, and the stage was cleared without incident, this is not the typeof thing we like to see happen in the hall.
In brief, it was lack of preparation on our part, and the part of the organizer that 'set the stage' for this to happen. We did not have adequate staff on hand to prevent the large number of people to get to the stage because we did not anticipate such an occurrence, and the organizer didn't have the experience at producing events to understand the necessity for that sort of precaution. Overall, the event was not well organized, there were program changes up to the last
day, and the organizers were not well equipped to produce the show itself, nor were they especially adept at communicating the needs of the production with our staff.
It is my belief that had SUPERB been involved with the promotion and production of this event, their staff would have been aware of the potential for such an occurrence, and we would have been able to work with them to assure that our preparation would have been sufficient, not only for thesafety of the performers and audience, but for the overall quality of the show.
Cal Performances facilitates the use of Zellerbach, the Greek, and Wheeler for any campus department, including the ASUC, for a wide variety of events. We see our role as providing the space, the equipment, and a limited amount of production advice to these users. We generally do not provide a full range of production services. We depend on the campus sponsor or the act(s) they are bringing, to fully understand their own requirements and communicate those to us so we can give them the best reproduction of their performance possible. Occasionally though, as in this case, a show is put together that requires more coordination on the producing side than we are
able to provide. This is exactly the sort of thing that SUPERB exists to do.
In the future, I would very much like to see the students of SUPERB be involved with events such as this one, particularly those that come to us under the umbrella of ASUC sponsorship. I realize of course that this may increase their workload, and I know that their participation in SUPERB represents a significant commitment of time beyond their academic obligations at Cal. But I also believe that a more active participation in this way will help them be recognized as partners and
collaborators with other student groups in bringing performances and events targeted at the student population. They bring the necessary knowledge, experience, and skills to event production that the organizers typically lack, and that we typically do not have the time or resources to provide. They can even sometimes save the organizers money, since we allow SUPERB to staff events, reducing our costs, in a way we do not permit any other group to do. We only do this because wehave assurance SUPERB is capable of doing so.
During the debrief meeting, Tim House, the manager of Zion I, said he was surprised that SUPERB was not involved in the event, since his group has performed at Cal on other occasions under the sponsorship of SUPERB. He added that the group has performed at many college campuses all across the country, many of which have student run presenters like SUPERB, and of all the places they've been, SUPERB stands out as the best in every way, from organization, to professionalism, torespect for the needs of artists and audience. The Berkeley campus is very fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented group of students who are so committed to this part of campus life, andwhen they are excluded from participation in events like this one, no one benefits.
Finally, I am more than happy to do whatever I can to help facilitate a working model for more SUPERB involvement in ASUC sponsored activities. I believe that with a little thought and planning this the added workload will be manageable and minimal (the number of events annually are prettysmall), the events will be better managed, and there is huge potential for the Senate torecognize, and hopefully acknowledge, the value of SUPERB to the ASUC and the campus.
Tom Hansen, Production Director
. . .
Friday, October 19, 2007
UC Davis Graduate Students Withdraw from UCSA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2007
This month, the UC Davis Graduate Student Association (UCD GSA) voted to withdraw from the University of California Student Association (UCSA), the coalition of most student governments in the UC system.
"While this may come as a shock to the UCSA, our withdrawal from the coalition is result of longstanding issues with UCSA's staff, board members, and organizational structure," said Brent Laabs, External Chair of UCD GSA. "By representing our constituents independently of UCSA, we can present a more professional image and better work for the needs of all graduate students. Our primary focus for the future will be on legislative campaigns at the state level, where UCSA has committed insufficient resources."
The undergraduate association at UC Davis, ASUCD, withdrew from UCSA in 2006, making Davis the only UC campus with no representatives on UCSA's Board of Directors.
More information is contained within the official withdrawal letter to the UCSA Board of Directors, attached to this email. Additional information and research about UC Davis' relationship with UCSA is available upon request.
Dear UCSA Board of Directors:
On Wednesday, October 3, 2007, the UC Davis Graduate Student Association voted 38-3-3 to withdraw from the University of California Student Association. We feel it is important to explain to the UCSA Board to explain our reasons for dissociation. While we recognize that the decisions made across the UC system affect all students, we of UCD GSA feel that we can better represent our students and contribute to the benefit of all UC student associations by pursuing avenues outside of UCSA.
UCD GSA feels that the most pressing issues facing UC students require legislative action in addition to action with the UC Regents and UC Office of the President: textbook affordability, nonresident tuition, affordable health care (especially for dependents), and the ever increasing student fees problem. These worsening problems on our campuses reflect the lack of support for the University of California in the state legislature. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer has recently stated that UC should be financially independent from the state, so it is imperative that we clarify exactly why UC is an important asset to Californians. Students are among the most economically vulnerable groups, and students must depend on society to invest in education for the well-being of all. In order to effectively represent all students, we need a more continuous and effective presence in Sacramento. As student government, we need to educate the legislature about the issues that affect us and to communicate our vision, which we believe UCSA has not effectively provided for the past 13 years. The emphasis on the politics of protest in UCSA has been counterproductive, and a more balanced approach to lobbying will be of vital importance to UC students in the coming years.
While UCD GSA would have preferred to have worked in solidarity with UCSA on this, it has become apparent that the UCSA organization is too rigid to change. Those who express opinions contrary to the assumed values of the organization, both from Davis and from other campuses, are subject to retaliation. Rather than providing a chance to develop a shared vision, those who go to UCSA Congress are instead inducted into the UCSA vision. UCD GSA sent a letter to UCSA objecting to the UCSA budget; we sincerely hoped that the letter would spur discussion on the direction of UCSA. Instead, we heard no response. Thus becalmed on a sea of silence, the GSA Assembly voted to set a new course of self-representation in order to better represent our constituents.
We hope that UCSA will work out issues that separate graduate and undergraduate interests – at the very least, we hope that voting at the Plenary session of Congress is reformed so that graduate students approve their own action agenda without undergraduate influence. We also hope that UCSA will begin to shift staff and resources towards research and direct communication with those in power, and away from direct action organizing, which should occur at the campus level instead of the statewide level. However, we look forward to partnering with UCSA on consensus issues such as reducing the cost of student fees.
In the coming year, UCD GSA plans to build a lobby corps, modeled from the ASUCD Lobby Corps, that provides students with access to their representatives on a regular basis. We are obliged to use our resources effectively representing graduate student interests; therefore, we are withdrawing from UCSA to directly represent our interests.
UCD GSA External Chair
UCD GSA Chair
. . .
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Free insurance for SJP
Back in session, the following Resolution, SB 26, as amended in committee, was authored by Mr. Shams and Yaman Salahi:
RESOLUTION AGAINST HATE CRIMES AND FOR SOLIDARITY AT UC BERKELEY
WHEREAS, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) sign was deliberately attacked on September 17, 2007; and
WHEREAS, this act of vandalism is a hate crime against Students for Justice in Palestine; and
WHEREAS, Students for Justice in Palestine is a student group on campus that actively seeks to inform the student body and community about Palestinian issues in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian dispute and serves both the local community and the general campus population; and
WHEREAS, nationally, Muslims are a highly victimized community and in the United States, post-9/11; and
WHEREAS, issues concerning the Middle East and Islam occupy a very contentious space in US social and political circles; and
WHEREAS, the ASUC Senate recognizes that hate crimes are present in our immediate surroundings and not just a regional and distant issue; and
WHEREAS, every student at UC Berkeley deserves the right to be secure from discrimination and hate crimes;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the ASUC shall support SJP in their attempts to raise funds for and reconstruct their damaged property.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ASUC through public mediums on campus and the Auxiliary, make student organizations aware of proper procedures in event of such hate crimes taking place.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that ASUC President Van Nguyen make the higher administration aware of such incidents now and in the future by notifying the Dean of Students and Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ASUC, in consultation with the Dean of Students, consider the re-commissioning of the 2003 Chancellor's Task Force on Hate and Bias with the tasks of:
Recommending actions the University of California, Berkeley campus can take to combat incidents of hatred or bias against people based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or political beliefs outside of the academic setting;
Recognizing that the mission of the task force is to prevent and meaningfully respond to incidents of hate on campus and, in the process, create a campus climate that does not tolerate such incidents;
Recommending that this task force be incorporated into the Dean of Student’s Advisory Council.
Mr. Shams moved to amend the bill to add a second Whereas Clause. He asked to withdraw the motion.
Mr. Shams said the essence of the bill was something they all agreed on, and it was the wording and the strength of the bill that was in question. On September 1, the Students for Justice In Palestine’s sign, on the Sather Gate Bridge, was kicked into two pieces. It had been up for two weeks and it was the only sign that was broken in those two weeks. It was made of thick wood and had to be deliberately targeted. This was registered as a crime, vandalism, and initially no investigation was done. He wanted to thank the Finance Committee and the Senate for passing the bill to create funding for a sign.
Mr. Shams said the issue was hate. The 2002 Federal Hate Crime Report stated that a hate crime was against an individual, but was an attack on one’s identity. Mr. Shams said “identity” was a key phrase.
Hate crimes were meant to intimidate and cause fear. A lot of Senators have been to SJP meetings, and the group was much different than what the actual perception of it was on campus. Anybody who’s been in the group a long time could attest to the stereotype. People think it was solely Muslim, or solely Arab, and that it consisted of potential suicide bombers. People come up to the SJP table and ask if they were wearing a suicide belt. People who table for the group had to be trained on how to deal with people who were hostile and aggressive. The support was of the Palestinian nation and focused on human rights abuses.
Mr. Shams said they needed to call this what it was, a hate crime. It was targeted and met the actual definition of a hate crime. They had to separate the nation of Palestine from the state of Palestine. While there may not be a state, the nation, the people, were still there. Kicking the sign in two pieces inspired fear and hindered free speech.
Mr. Shams said opponents to the bill will focus on hate crimes and the strength of the language. The attempt was to tie SJP with nationality, not political beliefs. There were issues with past definitions used by the previous Chancellor, and that was corrected. Mr. Shams said the Senate was not there to be a judge and jury. They had to uphold the ideas they believed in and the communities they represent. Those ideas were freedom and freedom from fear. He wanted to thank Sen. Weiner and everybody who worked on this bill, including Sen. Silver. They’ve had very positive compromises. Hopefully, this could be a progressive bill and a serious statement. Last week the Senate made a positive statement for the Jena 6, for something that happened thousands of miles away, and the Senate should address something that happened right on campus. Hopefully, people will see this as a hate crime.
Mr. Weiner said he e-mailed out the California State law definition of a hate crime. He wanted to thank Sen. Shams. This was a good bill to absolutely and as strongly as possible go against what happened with the vandalism. Everyone agreed it was wrong and that nothing like this should happen again. The problem with the bill was it declared what happened as a hate crime. Calling it a “hate crime” meant it was a violation of actual law. A political belief was not included in that definition. So he would suggest changing the language, to have strong wording, but to remove the language that called this a hate crime. The University and External Affairs Committee originally worked from an incorrect definition of a hate crime. He thought all Committee members now actually realize the correct definition. Only three states and the District or Columbia include political belief as a hate crime, and California wasn't one of them. So technically, this wasn't a hate crime in the State of California. It was brought up that this could be against a nationality. That was a possibility, but on the facts that they had, the Senate couldn't say that. All they knew was that a sign was damaged. It was a political sign for a political group. The SJP mission statement says it's a diverse group students, faculty, staff, and community members. It was not on its face a group of Palestinians. So damaging this group’s sign could not, without more evidence, automatically considered be a hate crime.
Mr. Weiner said this had important implications for the Senate taking action as a body in response to future incidents that were known to be hate crimes. Taking the action that they should in such cases would be limited if, without looking at the law, they declared something a hate crime just because they wanted to make a strong statement. They could still do that, as they should, but they couldn't use “hate crime” in the bill to do that. That would not be in accordance with State law.
Ms. Winston yielded time to Husam Samir Khalil Zakharia. Mr. Zakharia said he would like to thank them for giving time and energy to the bill. It was disturbing that to have the Senate get caught up in very technical definitions of what a hate crime was. They forget there's a context, a climate of hostility, especially post 9-11, and the climate that existed for Arabs and Muslims. When people table for the group, they're taught that people will come up who were hostile and will assume people at the table were Palestinian. They weren't looking at State law and legal definitions. The person who kicked the sign in two was not asking about definitions.
Mr. Zakharia said they had to understand what a hostile climate was, a climate that was hostile to Arabs and Muslims. People ask if they have suicide bombs on them. It was hurtful when their own student government got bogged down in technicalities of what was and wasn't a hate crime. He would ask the Senate to please help the group send a message, and to not dilute that message. They should just say what this was, and what people were familiar with. What happened was people were assaulted politically. (Applause)
Mr. Shams asked what his relationship was in SJP. Mr. Zakharia said he was just a concerned, active member, and was proud to be Palestinian.
Mr. Weiner said he would like to thank Mr. Zakharia for speaking out against the serious crimes that have occurred all over the US, as he mentioned. He asked if it would be a good idea to have a line between those crimes that were explicitly against a national group, religion, or ethnicity, versus something that might just because political in nature. Mr. Zakharia said hypothetically he agreed that it would be ideal if they knew the exact intentions of the person who did this vandalism. But they didn't. But they do know what the political context was and how people in the group feel. That’s what the Senate should base its decision on.
Mr. Shams moved to recess for two minutes. The motion was seconded by Ms. Patel and passed with no objection. This meeting was recessed.
Back in session, Mr. Weiner moved to amend the bill, replacing “hate crimes,” everywhere it appeared in the bill, with “acts of hate.” The motion was seconded by Mr. Osmeña.
Mr. Weiner yielded time to Jeremy Anapol. Mr. Anapol the best way to support an argument that something was bad was not to call it something it wasn't. Introducing fallacy wasn't a way to strengthen an argument. If they wanted to make this a strong bill, they should call state that there was “a malicious act of hate,” or “the ASUC unequivocally condemned” this. But they shouldn't call this something it wasn't, according to campus definition, per CL&L, and according to State and federal law.
Mr. Anapol said the first Resolved Clause stated that the ASUC will support SJP in its attempts to raise funds for and reconstruct the sign. That seemed good on its face, but he believed that would be a violation of the principle of equal protection, because other groups that might not enjoy as much political support as SJP would have no guarantee the Senate would act and give them the same support as SJP. He would suggest striking that, or replacing it with wording saying the ASUC would support victims of vandalism or censorship.
Mr. Anapol said that when they call something a hate crime when it wasn't, then they undermine the purpose of having a hate crimes category.
Mr. Weiner said the Dean of Students has talked about civility, and calling something a hate crime when it wasn't didn't help civility, which was about being fair, in accordance with the law, and not being biased.
For that reason, and for purposes of healthy political debate on campus, he hoped the Senate didn't call something a hate crime when it wasn't, according to any definition in the State of California.
Ms. Winston said the Senate should respect all individuals, and it was problematic to show disrespect for their constituents. She was fairly neutral, with no obvious ties to issues in that region. But talking about the climate of hostility, she has seen people at the SJP table attacked and harassed. The campus climate did not support them. It would be an important statement for the ASUC to say it was not okay for these things to happen, regardless of who it happened to. In this case it happened to SJP, and the Senate would support the group. The Senate should call this a hate crime, because that’s what it was. They shouldn't limit themselves to State and federal definitions. There were hate crimes before there was a legal definition. People should consider context, and State and federal law was not always right. Simply because something wasn't delineated by law didn't mean it was any less detrimental to students on campus. They shouldn't let their biases affect the way they vote on this.
The floor was yielded to Mr. Zakharia. Mr. Zakharia said he thought the ASUC could make statements it wanted to, and asked if they could make statements on their own, and on SJP’s behalf. Ms. Winston said they pride themselves on being autonomous. They didn't have to let other’s definitions define what they did. They could say this was a hate crime by their own definition. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired. A motion to extend speaking time by two minutes was made and seconded by Mr. Jackson and Ms. Patel and passed with no objection.
Mr. Weiner asked if she would be willing to call it a hate crime if other signs were broken. Ms. Winston said she would be willing to listen to that argument. SJP was a political group and a group of individuals, many of whom were affected by events that took place in Palestine. So this was a valid argument for a hate crime. The Cal Dems, e.g., wouldn't have such strong support for damage to its sign being a hate crime. Mr. Weiner said that based on its mission statement and membership, the SJP was not a national group but a political group. Ms. Winston said they were a political group that supported a nationality.
Yaman Salahi said the definition of a hate crime included what was real or what people perceived. SJP didn't represent any ethnicity, nationality, or religion, although that was how they were perceived. People in the group who table, no matter what background, have experienced a hostile climate.
The floor was yielded. Mr. Anapol asked if he would agree to dealing with hate crimes against all nationalities, to have a more general statement condemning hate crime. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired. Mr. Shams moved to extend by two minutes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jackson and passed with no objection. Ms. Winston said they were combating what happened. If another group brought something to the Senate, they'd give it equal consideration. This bill would not prevent the Senate from supporting other groups as well. The bill wasn't against another group, but was to support a group. That didn't mean opposition to any other group. Hate crimes were not defined by pen and ink, but the affect they had on the unlucky recipients.
Mr. Silver said that when they started, they wanted to have the External Affairs Committee pass legislation that was strong and would move them forward, and not pass BS legislation that didn't really do anything. He wasn't against the bill, but was worried about the free and liberal use of definitions, and making their own definitions. He feared that with the guidelines the Senate was setting up that evening, people will write legislation on whatever they wanted, and the Senate would move away from its goal of passing legislation that had weight. They should make sure they're really accomplishing something. It was important that what the Senate have legal merit and justification, and that they have sound bills. He thought this bill was sound, but that was something for the Senate to consider. People were concerned that this wasn't a hate crime, but as a leader of the Jewish community, he was deeply offended over what happened to SJP’s sign. At the same time, that didn't mean he couldn't disagree with the language of the bill. If the Senate wanted its bills to have clout outside the room, they had to make sure that what they said was sound, and to be critical with the words they use. He would ask people to understand the legal repercussions to passing the bill.
Mr. Shams asked what the legal repercussions were. Mr. Silver said it was setting up a situation where their legislation would be questioned. This wasn't just about passing the bill among the 20 Senators, but what happened outside Eshleman, and having it mean something to people.
Mr. Shams said he wanted to thank Mr. Anapol for being civil and for the Jewish caucus for working on this. Ms. Coleman said there was no “Jewish caucus,” and not all Jewish members of the Senate felt the same way. Mr. Shams said he thought they met. Ms. Coleman said there was no meeting.
Mr. Shams said the Senate met for two hours discussing what they expected from external bills. It was important to look at the legal connection to bills, but they didn't have to look outside the ASUC. He took pseudo offense to bringing up the Dean of Students’ comments on civility. A stance of neutrality favored the dominant ideology or person. There was a crime against the sign, so civility was standing up for what one thought was right. People should make decisions on what they felt was right, and not just on legalities. They were dealing with perceptions. It wasn't that SJP had more weight. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired. Mr. Weiner moved to extend speaking time and total time by a minute and a half. The motion was seconded by Ms. Patel and passed by voice-vote.
Mr. Salahi people have made assumptions about wording, and at stophate.berkeley.edu, the wording was good enough for the campus and was considered by the Committee at its meeting. The ASUC wasn't obligated to limit itself with how the law read. They could go forward in response to what they believed was a hate crime, and can extend the definition and call something a hate crime if that’s what they felt it was. Ms. Allbright said speaking time had expired. Ms. Winston moved to extend speaking time and total time by 15 minutes. The motion was seconded and passed with no objection.
Mr. Rhoads moved to amend the amendment, to amend “acts” of hate” back to “hate crimes,” and to replace the second Whereas Clause with the following:
“Whereas, this act of vandalism was a criminal hate act against Students for Justice In Palestine and may legally constitute a ‘hate crime.’”
Mr. Shams moved to recess for two minutes. The motion was seconded and passed with no objection. This meeting was recessed. Back in session, Mr. Silver moved to extend the recess by three minutes. The motion was seconded by Ms. Patel and passed with no objection. This meeting was recessed.
Back in session, Mr. Shams seconded Mr. Rhoads’ motion to amend.
Mr. Rhoads said the amendment would retain the possibility that the act was a hate crime and would keep hate-crime language in the bill that a lot of people felt was so important in order to send a strong message. The amendment stated that the act may legally constitute a hate crime.
Ms. Coleman said California Penal Code states that context was important whether something was a hate crime. In a message from the State Attorney General, he noted that the community could determine if something was or wasn't a hate crime. Mr. Weiner said this didn't weaken the Senate’s opposition to the vandalism. They didn't know the motivation of the offender in order to declare whether or not this was a hate crime.
Mr. Zakharia asked if the ASUC scrutinized every bill in minute detail in terms of its exact legal language and ramifications. Mr. Weiner said he would reject the notion that this was a “minute detail.” It was an obvious detail they'd be making a mistake on. A hate crime was a act that violated hate crime law, and this incident didn't fit that definition. It would be wrong to say it was a hate crime. Ms. Patel moved to extend speaking time by two minutes. The motion was seconded and passed with no objection.
The floor was yielded. Mr. Apanol asked if the last speaker’s question showed the bias the bill was trying to combat. Mr. Apanol said he has been the victim of a hate crime, and that was why he was scrutinizing this as closely as he was.
Ms. Winston said she felt personal attacks were being made, and she didn't think they were appropriate. Ms. Allbright said she was doing the best she could to facilitate the meeting to allow guests to speak. Guests didn't have the opportunity to participate in the training that Senators received, so she was giving them some leeway. She would ask Senators to please be patient. If they felt that decorum was being violated, they could raise that point, and she would ask them to do so politely and to not attack speakers. And Ms. Allbright said she would ask guests to understand that this was a debate about the issues. She knew it was personal, but they had to refrain from personal attacks and focus at the issue at hand. She noted that her statements were not directed towards any individuals.
Mr. Weiner said he was not opposed to the bill saying the act was wrong. This was a simple matter of what the law did and didn't say.
Ms. Coleman asked if he thought that people felt this incident was a hate crime. Mr. Weiner said that perception was just one consideration. They didn't know the motivation of the perpetrator.
Ms. Winston said she would ask to remove the quotation marks around the term “hate crime” in the amended Whereas Clause. She felt that devalued the language and made it seem less valid.
Mr. Silver moved to call the question. The motion to end debate failed by hand-vote 9-6-1.
Mr. Shams said that Mr. Salahi raised the question as to whether to include political beliefs as a part of hate crimes. Crimes against people based on their political beliefs could be prosecuted. The question was not about motivations, but whether the Senate wanted to push forward with the law and assert their voice in the public discourse.
A speaker said he would reprimand both guest speakers for their personal attacks. That was experienced in committee. The amendment to the Whereas Clause weakened everything concerning a hate crime. It puts conditions on hate crimes and weakened all motions on hate crimes.
Mr. Seaty moved to recess for five minutes. The motion was seconded and passed by voice-vote. This meeting was recessed. Back in session, Mr. Shams moved to extend the recess by three minutes. The motion was seconded and passed with no objection.
Back in session, Mr. Shams asked if a straw poll could be taken on the bill itself, not the amendments under discussion. An objection was raised. Ms. Allbright said straw polls were to determine the will of the Senate regarding the motion at hand, and a straw poll had to be roughly constrained to the bill. Mr. Weiner moved to overrule the Chair, and said they should not have a straw poll on the bill when an amendment was on the floor. Ms. Allbright said straw polls determine the will of the Senate for matters at hand, although they could be used with flexibility. Mr. Weiner said by Robert's Rules, it was out of order to move away from what was before the body in order to consider something else. Ms. Allbright said that under Robert's Rules, a straw poll was out of order at any time, and rules regarding straw polls were in the By-laws only.
The motion to overrule the Chair’s decision to allow a straw poll failed unanimously by voice-vote.
Mr. Shams asked for a straw poll SB 26, as amended by the University and External Affairs Committee. A straw poll was taken. Ms. Allbright said the result was 8-5-1 and the motion would pass.
Ms. Allbright said the time for debate on the amendment to the amendment had expired and the question was automatically called. The motion to approve Mr. Rhoads’ amendment to the Whereas Clause failed by hand-vote 8-9-0.
Ms. Allbright said they were under consideration of Mr. Weiner’s amendment, to replace “hate crimes” with “acts of hate.”
Mr. Weiner moved to recess for one minute. The motion was seconded by Mr. Rhoads and failed by voice-vote. Mr. Shams moved the question on the amendment. Mr. Osmeña moved to recess for one minute and 15 seconds. The motion was seconded by Ms. Patel and passed by voice-vote. This meeting was recessed. Back in session, Mr. Shams moved to extend the recess by five minutes. The motion was seconded by Ms. Patel and passed by hand-vote 8-1-5. Back in session, Mr. Shams moved to extend the recess by five minutes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Rhoads and passed with no objection. This meeting was recessed.
Back in session, Mr. Rhoads moved to amend. Ms. Allbright said that was out of order since they were under consideration of Mr. Weiner’s amendment. Mr. Shams moved to call the question. The motion to end debate was seconded and passed by hand-vote 8-1-1.
The motion to approve the amendment to replace “hate crimes” with “acts of hate” failed by voice-vote.
Mr. Rhoads moved to update the wording and amend the bill to have the second Resolved Clause read:
“Whereas, this act of vandalism is a criminal hate act against Students for Justice in Palestine and may legally constitute a hate crime.”
Mr. Rhoads said his amendment would also strike the first Whereas Clause, “Whereas, the… SJP sign was deliberately attacked….” The motion to amend was seconded.
THE MOTION TO APPROVE THE AMENDMENTS PASSED WITH NO OBJECTION.
Mr. Osmeña yielded time to Mr. Anapol. Mr. Anapol said that in a last-ditch effort to ensure equal protection for groups that encounter this in the future, he would ask the Senate to consider the following
Resolved Clause: “Resolved, that in future cases of bias or hate-motivated crimes against any student group, the ASUC Senate will provide appropriate support, both monetary and rhetorical, to the targeted group, regardless of its membership.”
Mr. Anapol said the idea was that even if a group didn't have the same support politically that SJP had in the Senate, the Senate will have committed itself to giving it the same treatment. He thought this would be good step in combating hate crimes and bias on campus in general.
Mr. Silver moved to call the question on SB 26, as amended. The motion to end debate was seconded by Mr. Jackson and passed with no objection.
Mr. Shams requested a roll call vote. The request was seconded by Ms. Ureña.
Roll call was taken on the motion to approve SB 26, as amended in committee and on the floor:
A motion to close the rolls was made and seconded by Mr. Jackson and Ms. Patel and passed with no objection. THE MOTION TO APPROVE SB 26, AS AMENDED IN COMMITTEE AND ON THE FLOOR, PASSED 14-2-1, RESOLUTION AGAINST HATE CRIMES AND FOR SOLIDARITY AT UC BERKELEY. [Voting comments were heard.]
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Monday, September 3, 2007
Jennifer Avelino's Statement on Facebook Shit-Talking
You may or may not be aware of my infamous Facebook message, but I'd like to take a moment to talk about it.
To my Student Action senators and EVP Gupta, from the moment I joined the family I was taught to never talk negatively about another candidate. I was taught that negative campaigning never works, and Student Action tries to push a very positive campaign by personal connections with the students and not worrying about the other parties. Even when I talked to SA candidates this year, I stressed never to speak badly about CalSERVE, no matter what they do to you. I, however, did not practice what I preached, and I apologize for breaking Student Action tradition. It was impulsive and uncharacteristic of me and I apologize for that.
The message was intended only for my friends, its colloquial manner and my free flowing speech expressed that. Nevertheless, it was leaked out to other people, and other people were affected by it.
Senator Wasserman brought something to my attention which I would not have otherwise seen. In that message there is a part which discusses Senator Nguyen's voting practice in relation to his ethnic identity. This could imply that someone's ethnic identity is dependent upon their votes, and this should never be the case. A person's identity should be based on your own personal experiences, and should not be defined for you. This touches upon the "you're either with us or against us idea," or my favorite, "you're not BLANK enough," something I personally have faced in my own community. Just because this kind of racial slander was done to me, does not give me the right to do it to others. It was definitely not my intention, but the fact that at least one person took it that way is a problem. I am not a racist, but I am not perfect and neither are all of you. Everyday we engage in this racial card game, forcing people to identify a certain way. Look at the elections, everyday I saw people appealing to a certain ethnic group for support solely based on ethnicity. This is not how to progress past this racially based society, and I apologize to those who may have been hurt by that part of the message.
I expected a negative response from those who opposed my opinion which I am entitled to, but I did not expect the kind of recourse that was taken. No student, no human being should ever have to go through what I went through and actually am still going through. What people did to me was outright dehumanizing. Let me put this in psychological terms. There's group-think where people in a group tend to think alike, then there's ingroup/outgroup. This is when one group sees another group as not belonging to their group. Then there's dehumanization. This is when the in-group treats the out-group like they are less than human and have no emotional feelings. This is the framework that led to the Holocaust, this is the type of behavior that ends in 1st grade after your teacher puts you in time out for calling someone a name. This kind of behavior was displayed to me moments after my message was leaked. And this kind of behavior was displayed to many people during this election season.
I was called names, yelled at to my face, blocked from entering buildings, told never to show up to "our" events, I was pranced around while being chanted to like I was an inanimate object, I was told that we hate you, I was told what kind of Asian are you, I was told that I was a disgrace to my community, and the list goes on. My goodness, how old are we? Even days after the elections have ended, I got told to keep on walking, yup you're not wanted here. I didn't even attend the API Issues Conference because of fear from being attacked. I couldn't enjoy the one API event on campus that I have been publicizing to you all about since the moment I took office. This is only my story. What about others? Two people were attacked with eggs during chalking. Egging happens to houses during Halloween, not to people during chalking. These chalkers are helping their friends, and someone thinks that they are a threat and thus has the right to physically harm them. Unacceptable. There are government laws against that kind of behavior. People were yelled at to their face, as if they didn't have eardrums, while they walked someone to class. People got their lit ripped from their hands, and thrown in the trashcan; that's called stealing. Some things are all in fun and games, but other things were taken way too far. I'm not saying any group is responsible for these things, but this should never happen, and I hope no one has to go through anything like this again. This kind of behavior should have ended in 1st grade. I did not expect this from educated college students especially from the University of California Berkeley and those who are trying to represent the entire student body. I do not want this kind of people representing me.
Finally, I'd like to say that I am proud to be a Student Action Senator. We've done a lot of good things for this campus, and it's a shame there is so much negativity connected with our name. Contrary to popular belief Student Action has made change this year and will continue to do so next year for every student. With that, I'd like to say congratulations to those who won the preliminary round of tabulation, and I hope that all of you who will be here next year stay involved with the ASUC.
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Sunday, September 2, 2007
Jennifer Avelino's Facebook Shit-Talking
As senator this year I've seen a lot happen and I'd like to share my personal feelings about this year's elections.
I do NOT support Van for President!
In leiu of today's Daily Cal endorsment of Van Nguyen, I thought I should share my experiences with CalSERVE candidate Van Nguyen. Let's get this clear. He has shown no interest in serving ALL students on this campus. He is only about empowering the minority voice. What about the rest of us? He did not support Spring Concert which would serve over 3,000 students. He did not support fixing the Cannon, which impacts 20,000+ students. He did not support the Student Life fee which affects well over 28,000 students. He did not support the Student Union Complex Fee which would support almost ALL the students. So again, who's voice is he trying to empower?
He has shown no support for current activities in the President's office. President Gabriel has worked very hard with the administration to get the Lower Sproul redevelopment project off the ground. He and AAVP Joyce Liou have even put together student forums to hear the student voice. Now let's face it, Eshelman and MLK student union are not the most attractive of seismicly safe buildings. Students deserve better, and students have expressed that they want more. It is clear that the university will not move unless students are ready to put down a monetary committment. Van thinks that money is not the solution. What the heck does he know? He hasn't been involved with Lower Sproul Redevelopment at ALL!! His only involvement is asking whether or no there will be a multicultural center in the plans. This project is going to cost the university millions of dollars! A nice student union is a privilage not a RIGHT! We have to show we are committed. He hasn't shown that committment at all.
His sentiment that "Students should not have to pay for their voice" will fall flat on its face when NOTHING is done next year. Let's flash back to when he opposed giving money to Cal Lobby Day. REALLY?! Not putting any money where your mouth is!! Then a few weeks later Van asks EAVP Jason Chu why he thought Cal Lobby Day was a success, if not much was accomplished. Well DUH!!! If there isn't enough money to put on a successful Cal Lobby Day, then you can't have a successful Cal Lobby Day!! Come on Van!
Representing his community? I think not! Van wanted to lower the amount of money for the VSA Culture Show. What? That's your community!! He said he wanted to be more financially responsible and leave more money to other groups. If you're not supporting your own community, then who ARE you supporting?
Now about this Election Council Chair witch hunt mentioned in the Daily Cal. I was all for approving Jessica Wren in the beginning, but seeing her in action I take it back. Van argued that if we don't approve her now, we won't have elections. Bologna! Van argued that she has the experience to run a smooth election. Well so far, she's pushed back the filing deadline for candidates but not parties, so people who wanted to be part of a party after the orginal deadline couldn't. They HAD TO run independent. The new deadline was past the candidate's meeting, which meant that anyone who signed up late could have missed that very important meeting (read yesterday's daily cal). Van said that she will act professionally. She has sent emails to the entire senate disrespecting me and my role as a senator. She has not come to a senate meeting during the campaign season, and she probably won't. She said that she would mark off the polling stations before the elections so no chalking violations will occur in those areas. Where are the markings? It's the day before voting and its the first time I've seen advertisements for voting posted up. She's taken away polling stations from graduate student hot spots, but has made no effot in publicizing the elections in those areas. Van supported this ineffecient, disrespectful, and unprofessional chair. This shows his bad judgement.
Cal is a community. It encompasses the students, the faculty, the staff, and the administrators. Van supports more ASUC independence from the administration. Well there is a reason there is an administration in the first place. First and foremost we are students, and the ASUC should come second. The administrators are there to put the ASUC first, the students first. Without their support, a student would be overwhelmed, and lots of things would not get done. The Cal community needs to work TOGETHER to accomplish things. Not independently.
I have sat in senate with him this past year and all I have seen from him are complaints. He's been running his presidential campaign since day 1 and has spent little time making CHANGE this year. What makes you think he'll make any change next year. He complains about the executive offices, but takes no action in changing things. So much progress has been made in the president's office. Voting for Van is taking a step backwards. Actions speak louder than words, and Van has been a sitting duck in senate this year.
Why I support Ilana Nankin?
She bleeds BLUE and GOLD. She has a love for this school like no one I have ever seen. That kind of passion for a school is what the president should have. That's the kind of passion that donors to the university are looking for. She has proved that she will do great things on this campus. As SENATOR, she put together a resource conference for student groups, helped the greek community with philanthropic bills, put together a first ever Spring Welcome Week, and helped the Cal Band and UC Rally Committee continue their timeless traditions in Cal spirit. These are just a few of the things Ilana has accomplished this year.
A president should be someone you can relate to, someone who understands the students needs. As one of the most personable people I have ever met, she can relate to all of us. She is a Fall Freshman Extension student, a Jewish student, from the Bay Area, a sister in Alpha Delta Pi, a former ASUC intern, a former UCRC member, a former Unit 2 resident, a Cal Football fan, an ASUC Senator, and so much more.
As a good friend of mine, I have sat with her to talk about my goals in the Asian American community. She has shown me that she has an open mind about issues, and continues to offer her assistance in achieving my goals. Unlike Van who constantly criticizes me efforts. (Bitter? Yes.)
Ilana's passion for Cal and her current achievements as Senator show that she is ready to be president. Being one year younger than Van does not mean she is less experienced. She has proved her experience this year. Being a woman, the first one in 10 years, would not only empower women on this campus but show the world that Cal is PROGESSING.
Vote Ilana Nankin for ASUC president!
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Monday, August 27, 2007
Letter from UCDGSA to UCSA on Budget
Dear UCSA Board of Directors:
In the June 2007 UC Davis Graduate Student Association Assembly meeting, the Assembly voted not to approve the UCSA Budget for FY 2007-08. The Assembly asked us to write a letter explaining why we did not approve the budget, and which specific line items concerned us most.
Over the past few years, UCSA has placed a high emphasis on hiring new staff, particularly in terms of field organizing staff. The budget for staff salaries and staff benefits has risen by $121,500 in the past four years, an increase of ~ 77%. We do not believe that hiring more organizing staff is the best path for UCSA at this point. Most organizing of students happens at the campus level, and much of the work of UCSA is best performed by local volunteers. Since graduate students have fewer numbers to organize for direct action, we generally prefer to work to influence the system from within due to our greater proportional influence within our campuses as compared to within UCSA. Due to this, we see little to no benefit from this expansion at UCSA.
We do not object to the budget for staff salaries but rather staff assignments, which should be itemized by position in the budget. Instead of hiring three organizing staff, we would be better served by hiring additional legislative affairs, university affairs, or media relations staff. These staff would be better able to serve the campuses in areas where campus offices are weak – connections to the wider governing bodies of the University of California, the UC Regents and the California Legislature. Additionally, it would better serve graduate and professional students, who rely on expertise instead of numbers to build student power.
The GSA Assembly is concerned spending is not well controlled within the UCSA Budget. For instance, we feel that $10,000 is too great an expense to administrate the UCSA website. In fact, the $5,000 that the Board of Directors spent last year was more than adequate to make a respectable website and manage our email listserves. However, little has been added to give the site a more modern feel, and even the banner on the website still has the incorrect name of the organization. We do not feel that current structure of the website is effective at communicating with and representing such a large organization, and throwing money at the problem will not fix the underlying structural issues. Instead of paying for the Voter Voice system, we could have a software engineer design an email system specifically for our students as well as have a website redesign for under $5,000. At the very least, seeing how little progress has been made on the website from last year, we would like to see a competitive bid process for the website administration.
We believe that UCSA would be more effective in influencing legislation if the UCSA home office was relocated to Sacramento. While we have maintained the Oakland office for many years, the UC Student Lobby and UCSA originally had its headquarters in Sacramento. Then, with the Smith v. Regents decision, UCSA closed its Sacramento office and relocated to be near the UC Office of the President. UCSA has never fully regained the student voice that it had in the pre-Smith era, and we feel that the lack of a strong, continuous presence at the state capital is vital to our campaigns, as many of them need legislative support. While rallies and protests may be effective ways to garner media attention and pressure legislators, we would like UCSA to be more proactive and partner with legislators and engage in ongoing dialogue to influence legislation. At this point a Sacramento headquarters would be more cost-effective for the UCSA Budget, both in travel and office space. Examples of issues that would be better addressed under this model would be: financial support for student-initiated outreach, reducing nonresident tuition, and stopping fee hikes could use more attention from the California Legislature, and moving the UCSA main office could provide us with a better voice.
There is one more matter of concern in terms of fee hikes. While UCSA continually campaigns for a fee freeze for students, the minimum UCSA dues have increased at a rate which is proportional to the UC fee increases we have identified as excessive. It is hypocritical of us to run a long series of campaigns against fees while requiring our students to pay ever increasing amounts. While the case can be made that an investment in UCSA can reduce fees in the long term, UCSA has been relatively unsuccessful with freezing fees in the last few years, with the exception of last year’s gubernatorial election-induced fee freeze. UCSA officers and staff have been discussing running fee referenda for UCSA on different campuses, so we do not see these increases in UCSA fees stopping in the near term. Further, we reject any dilution of our own and our fellow associations’ autonomy due to UCSA referenda. Rather than inefficiently spending budget dollars to lobby our constituents to pay more, a better solution would be to effectively spend the money UCSA already has.
We in the UC Davis Graduate Student Association are not satisfied that graduate student concerns are being adequately addressed by the UCSA. This is a concern that has been mirrored by other graduate and professional student associations. We expect continuous improvement over the coming year if we are to continue our association with UCSA.
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