Fall 2015 AS Senate Concludes

Senators Discuss SAGE and a Thorough Investigation of Andres Sanchez’s Death


Gwendolyn Wu
AS Beat Reporter

The Associated Students Senate packed multiple decisions into its last meeting of fall quarter on Wed., Nov. 18, discussing difficult topics such as the Student Advocacy Governance & Engagement (SAGE) proposal and calling for a more thorough investigation of Andres Sanchez’s death. Both topics have been discussed at previous meetings; however, they were explored more thoroughly at the Nov. 18 meeting.

In response to a meeting two weeks ago on the subject, College of Letters & Science Senator Stevan Abdalmalik authored A Resolution in Support of Referendum as a Stipulation for SAGE. The University of California Student Association (UCSA), a student advocacy group, currently collects $140,000 from the University of California, Santa Barbara for membership in the association, which revises policy and talks with UC Regents about issues that concern students. This fee draws $2.55 a quarter ($2.43 during the summer) from each student on campus — a lot, given that other UCs pay $1.30 per quarter from each student for the same representation. With SAGE, UCSA would draw $4-6 from each student in the UC system each year, allowing students to choose to opt-out as an entire UC system should they vote so.

SAGE is designed to supply UCSA with a consistent budget, which has fluctuated throughout the years and caused the association to lose staff members and opportunities for UC students to get involved in advocating for the entire system. At the moment, UCSB students reaffirm that they want to supply the association with money by voting on a lock-in fee every spring quarter. The proposal suggests that UC students can entirely opt-out from paying fees, should they find that UCSA does not accurately represent their needs.

At a previous Senate meeting, senators and representatives from the United States Student Association (USSA) expressed skepticism over supporting the SAGE proposal, citing a lack of autonomy from the student body should the proposal be accepted as is. Abdalmalik’s resolution acknowledges that SAGE has many benefits for students at UCSB, however, his main issue with the proposal is how students will only be allowed to opt-in or opt-out, reducing their autonomy. The current status of UCSA is also difficult to audit, as some campuses do not decide to pay via referendum, as UCSB does, but through pulling from student fees.

“I believe that SAGE means well,” Abdalmalik said. “However, the fact that it takes away the student right and autonomy to actually vote on the student fees that they are going to be implemented on is wrong. This is a resolution in support of a referendum regarding UCSA SAGE.”

Passage of the resolution would direct AS President Jimmy Villarreal to bring the proposal not only to UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang, but also to the UC Regents and UC President Janet Napolitano. As a result, ASUCSB refuses to accept the SAGE proposal so long as it does not include a system-wide referendum, vital to solving what Abdalmalik stated were the biggest issues with SAGE, including, “unequal dues for equal representation, dues stagnation because of economic inflation and political fallout from member associations because of EVP decisions.”

Off-Campus Senator Alejandra Melgoza proposed A Resolution for Andres Sanchez Investigation, which calls on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the University of California to open a more thorough investigation into how Sanchez died on Sun., Oct. 11.

Melgoza stated that she has approached Isla Vista Foot Patrol Community Resource Deputy James McKarrell with the rest of the student first responders to Sanchez that morning, and while they have not received any answers to their questions, they would not like to point fingers — only receive answers that they and the family are still wondering about.

Melgoza and student sponsor Jocelin Hernandez, both witnesses present the morning that Sanchez died, presented a list of questions that they and Sanchez’s family, who they are still in constant contact with, still had regarding the circumstances of his death. Some questions include whether or not the officers who showed up at the scene were carrying a baton or a flashlight, and if IVFP officers have been trained to deal with traumatic, severe situations like the one they encountered that morning. The list of questions has also been sent to various media outlets, including The Bottom Line.

“The Chican@ and feminist studies departments on our campus have released a request for investigation, and yet this has not been answered,” Melgoza said. “The coroner’s report was just released on Mon., Nov. 16, and it has not given us sufficient information about the investigation, and so this has been what has led to this legislation.”

Hernandez related the narrative surrounding Sanchez’s death to the greater issue of police brutality and institutionalized racism happening in America. This was especially important to both Melgoza and Hernandez, to say that the conversation that took place with McKarrell was not “hostile,” as described in an earlier draft, but rather, that it lacked understanding.

While an official police report has been published recently, Hernandez stated that it read more like a toxicology report than an investigation of what happened that Sunday morning.

“It doesn’t matter how many drugs Andres Sanchez might have been on that night,” Hernandez said. “It doesn’t matter because he was still a life that deserved to be treated to the best of all our abilities. We are here on a college campus where I would be very ignorant and very blind to say that the student body here has not had an experience with all sorts of these substances, and we do not ever say that our wealthy white students here do not deserve to live, or that their death was their fault. These are things that are going on in terms of what we believe was occurring, and I want to contextualize that for you.”

Senate passed both resolutions that night.

This article has been updated to reflect current information.