After a string of sentimental end-of-the-year reports at the Wednesday, May 18 meeting of the Associated Students Senate, Student Advocate General Joseline Garcia changed the tone as she and several undergraduate students presented a list of demands drafted by VOCEROS. A group of undergraduate and graduate students formed VOCEROS last month to address issues of continued marginalization of the Latinx community in the wake of Andres Sanchez’s death.
The demands — posted as a petition on Change.org and addressed directly to University of California, Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang — include the establishment of a campus culture and awareness committee, a Latinx parent weekend offered in both English and Spanish and additional designated meeting and housing spaces for Latinx students. The petition also advocates for improved police relations, a higher level of diversity among CARE and CAPS staff and the creation of a Central American department and major.
The petition comes as the culmination of a series of quarterly town hall meetings hosted for the Latinx community to create spaces for healing and activism. Garcia said the presentation of her reforms was not intended to incite debate, but rather to make senators aware of VOCEROS’ proposal.
After the petition’s demand to meet with Yang on Friday, May 20 remained unanswered, Garcia, accompanied by several other students, conducted a sit-in in the Chancellor’s office at 9 a.m., according to the group’s Facebook page. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Dr. Margaret Klawunn and three other assistant vice chancellors of various departments sat down with students to address the reforms. The group met with Yang on Saturday, May 21.
In matters of old business, senators passed a bill to add a community resident director and a Santa Barbara City College relations director as permanent fixtures of the Isla Vista Tenants Union advisory staff. The positions will be filled by non-student supervisors, and neither position will have a vote in financial matters.
Senators also tabled a bill proposing to increase the number of employed student staffers in the Office of the Student Advocate (OSA) from 14 to 16. Several senators remained hesitant toward the office expansion, pointing to the five additional student employees hired during winter quarter of this year.
After a motion to remove a position from the bill was denied, senators agreed to table until next week’s meeting, when Student Advocate General-elect Josephine Ampaw is expected to present statistics on the OSA’s annual caseloads.
“If we table this for a week and have Josephine come in and express her concerns, I think that would better serve the student body in terms of transparency and better serve the needs of the office itself,” said College of Engineering Senator Sara Maroofi.
With still no word from UCSB’s Audit and Advisory Services office on the ongoing Inter-Fraternity Council investigation, A.S. President Jimmy Villarreal reaffirmed in his weekly report that the current senate will continue to serve into the ninth week of the quarter.
“We’re good right now,” said Villarreal, in response to a question from Off-Campus Senator Niki Elyasi on the state of the association. “There’s no impending doom. That’s why we provide a commission to make sure that we don’t come to a grinding halt.”