The newly appointed Associated Students Senate of the University of California, Santa Barbara failed to approve Queer Commission’s officer appointments and passed A Resolution for Queer Commission’s Appointments at the May 27 meeting, causing backlash and a veto of the resolution by President Jimmy Villarreal.
The resolution, written by Off-Campus Senators Louis Mariano and Mika Kawakami, states that the selection process for officers was questionable due to the inclusion of the question, “Do you support divestment?” Two applicants were asked this during their interviews, according to Queer Commission’s minutes sent to the final meeting of the 2014-2015 Senate on May 20.
In an email to the AS executives, senators, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) staff, and The Bottom Line, the Queer Commission executive board stated, “We agree that the question ‘Do you support divestment?’ should not have been asked of any of our applicants; however, our minutes from the election meeting do not accurately reflect the context of the situation or the conversation that occurred. This question was asked light-heartedly to two applicants whose stance on Divestment was already publically known. Beyond this, the issue of Divestment was not brought up in any deliberation whatsoever and was not a deciding factor in our voting process.”
Additionally, the resolution states that Senate reserves the right to “object any appointments that they deem unfit to the standards of the Association.” The Committee on Committees has been called upon to revive the selection process for officers, which will continue until week one of fall 2015. The resolution suspends Queer Commission’s ability to select their own officers until midway through Spring 2016. Mariano stated that this was due to an inability to conduct a proper investigation into the meeting minutes.
With regard to the new selection process, Queer Commission wrote, “This is not only extremely vague, but it also inappropriately places the power of the commission in the hands of those who are not directly involved with or identify with the LGBTQ community. Therefore, we understand this resolution—along with the disapproval of our appointments—as both an unwarranted attack against Queer Commission as well as an expression of homophobia and discrimination by the Senate.”
The statement claimed that Senate neglected to inform Queer Commission of the rejection of the minutes and passage of the resolution until after the meeting, saying that they were not given time to contextualize the situation. Queer Commission has called on Senate to approve the appointments and reject the resolution. As of press time, Senate has not issued a formal response to Queer Commission’s statement.
2015-2016 AS President Jimmy Villarreal issued a veto to the resolution on May 29. Villarreal also vetoed the motion to table Queer Commission’s appointments indefinitely, which was approved by consent by Senate. Both vetoes were issued in email statements, which Villarreal explained through email statements on June 1.
According to Villarreal, he perceives the decisions to be “an overstepping of the Senate’s powers.” Additionally, he stated that the resolution and decision to table Queer Commission’s appointments indefinitely were not presented in a timely manner, which did not allow senators to investigate the matter properly. Furthermore, his veto of the motion to table Queer Commission’s appointments indefinitely “seeks to now give Queer Commission an opportunity to explain their selection process to the Senate directly.” A Senate meeting has been scheduled for June 3 to discuss the resolution and motion.
During public forum, representatives from the UCSB Davidson Library spoke about a potential collaboration with AS regarding library infrastructure. While an exact date has yet to be confirmed, Director of Development Toni Miller announced that new library addition was expected to open in fall 2015, including features such as more power outlets, improved wifi connectivity, and study room reservations.
Miller and Associate Librarian for Outreach and Academic Collaboration Rebecca Metzger outlined plans for a proposal to AS for fundraising for new furniture and technology, presenting a number of facts about the library’s growth. The library wishes to fundraise $5 million for additional furnishings and collaborative technology, portioned through the first wave of improvements and a second wave for the old building.
Currently, the library is not funded by student fees; however, library officials may be requesting funding from AS in the coming months, shall they not reach fundraising efforts through grants and other monetary awards.
“I would love the Associated Students to consider a naming opportunity for a room, which the minimum donation is $25,000, which is the threshold for this campus for a naming opportunity,” said Miller. Members of AS would be given priority when studying and reserving the AS study space, although other students would be able to use it.
College of Letters & Science Senator Ashcon Minoiefar and Mariano authored A Resolution in Favor of hiring a Community Resource Deputy and Officer in the University of California, Santa Barbara Police Department and Isla Vista Foot Patrol.
Minoiefar plans to make many amendments to the resolution that will differentiate it from the resolution that had been introduced to the 2014-2015 Senate. These amendments would clarify “certain situations and circumstances” in order to keep up to date with “certain developments that have happened.” Other AS entities, such as Lobby Corps, are already working on implementing this, according to Off-Campus Senator Akshaya Natarajan.
“This is something both our police officers in each department have requested—they’re just trying to get the people in the greater powers to actually do it,” said Mariano. The resolution was passed by consent.