69th A.S. Senate Picks Up Unfinished Business from Previous Senate

Outgoing Internal Vice President Jasmine Sandhu swears in Steven Ho (Photo by Lauren Marnel Shores)

Minh Hua
Campus Beat Reporter 

After two weeks of legislative paralysis, the 69th Associated Students Senate met for a special meeting at 2:00 p.m on Thursday to swear the incoming A.S Senate and executive members into office, as well as to consider unreviewed bills, resolutions, and BCU’s minutes.

All Senators present at the meeting, held in the State Street room of the University Center, were sworn into their positions, as well as Student Advocate General Grecia Martinez, External Vice President for Local Affairs Jeike Meijer, and Internal Vice President Steven Ho.

The circumstances leading to Thursday’s meeting began at the Senate meeting on May 16, which included over 80 student speakers during public forum arguing for and against the “Resolution for Responsible Investments.”

The resolution, authored by outgoing A.S. Senators Brandon Mora and Vanessa Maldonado, stated “the Students, call upon our university to dissociate itself from companies that reinforces inequality and human rights violations, by divesting from companies that participate in or profit from human rights violations in Israel/Palestine.”

Ultimately, the debate continued during the May 16 meeting until approximately 5:00 a.m. when 14 Senators left during a brief recess, forcing the meeting’s adjournment. The meeting ended before accepting the agenda, ratifying any of the BCU’s (Boards, Commissions, and Units) minutes, or hearing any funding requests.

These action items were pushed to be voted upon at the following week’s meeting on Wednesday, May 23; however with only 12 senators and their proxies present, senate failed to meet quorum once more, thereby adjourning the 68th Senate’s final meeting.

At 8 p.m., the 69th Senate convened to hold their first meeting and vote on the action items that had yet to be voted upon by the previous senate, but this meeting too was shut down after protesters of the divestment resolution arrived at the Hub.

The next morning, Internal Vice President Steven Ho sent out an agenda for a new Senate meeting at 11:24 a.m., two hours before the meeting was set to take place.

During public forum, outgoing Student Advocate General Jack Tannenbaum expressed his disappointment at not being alerted to the meeting. Tannenbaum stated that it is “ridiculous” to assume that all 25 Senators would be present in such short notice.

“Someone was fired [from their job] because they came here because their proxy wasn’t accepted. Do we care at all for the people we all are?” Tannenbaum said.

At the beginning of Thursday’s meeting, Senator Christian Ornelas motioned to move the meeting to a closed session with only senators, proxies, executives, and A.S. staff present, saying that there were individuals in last night’s Senate meeting instructing Senators on “how to do their jobs.”

“Last night was a lot for everyone. I just want mental health to be put as a priority,” Ornelas said. He continued by saying that he felt threatened at Wednesday’s meeting, stating that protesters were trying to personally identify senators.

Ornelas stated that this was a potential safety concern, citing websites like the Canary Mission – a website that publicizes personal information including the name, photo, workplace, and social media links to individuals it deems to be anti-Semitic on college campuses.

Senate reopened at approximately 3:30 p.m. with the regular agenda. They tabled bills to update Lobby Corps, Environmental Affairs Board, Public and Mental Health Commission, Zero Waste Committee, and A.S. Program Board Legal Code.

During discussion about the Special Elections Procedure, Elections Board Vice President John Paul Renteria gave a presentation on the timeline of the Fall 2018 special election for the vacant seat of External Vice President for Statewide Affairs.

John Paul Renteria, Elections Board Vice President, presents a timeline of the special elections that will be held during fall quarter for the vacant seat of External Vice President for Statewide Affairs. (Photo by Dominick Ojeda | Photo Editor)

The elected External Vice President for Statewide Affairs Mayela Morales remains retroactively disqualified from her position due to a legal technicality, and was therefore not sworn in.

In response to Senate’s questions regarding election board’s decision, Renteria declined to speak on the matter.

“I cannot say anything. It’s confidential between elections board and the candidate in question,” Renteria said.

According to A.S. Legal Code, the Associated Students Elections Board will have all jurisdiction in regards to election procedures unless otherwise stated in legal code.

In regards to who will fill the EVPSA’s vacancy, Marquez suggest that Senate consult the outgoing EVPSA because legal code does not specify what happens when there is a vacancy in the spot.

After public forum, Senate accepted the agenda and approved Spring 2018 Honoraria, Rollover Requests, and the Special Elections Procedure.

Due to time constraints, Senate suspended the orders of the day to approve BCU’s minutes, with the exception of Elections Board minutes, which will be tabled until next week.

Jeremy Levine contributed reporting.