Executive Content Editor
[UPDATED: Oct. 3, 2022] The following article and its title has been updated for clarity and accuracy regarding senate meetings and claims from members of AS members. Since the original publication of this article, a F&B chair has been appointed and a Presidential Pro Tempore has been nominated.
Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 27, an Associated Students (AS) Boards, Committees, and Units (BCUs) chair member sent an email to all AS entities stating that the executive branch has “severely impaired if not completely blocked” the internal functions of UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) student government. In the email, Ted Giardello, chair of the AS Living History Project, illustrated how a number of these issues can be tied back to the responsibilities of Bee Schaefer, the AS Internal Vice President (IVP). The Bottom Line (TBL) sat down with an AS senator to fact-check Giardello’s email, as well as provide some elaboration on the weight of Schaefer’s actions (and inactions).
According to TBL’s source in the AS senate, Giardello’s claims that the senate has not been called to a meeting since last spring quarter due to Schaefer’s inability to call them to meet is correct. While the senate did meet to complete an email wrap-up vote from a previous senate meeting that occurred during spring quarter, a new senate meeting was not initiated during the summer. This inaction rendered the senate virtually frozen and unable to perform many of its functions when entering the school year. For example, without the senate meeting, all BCU actions were nullified and their chairs were not officially appointed. TBL’s sources within AS, as well as Giardello, claim that these consequences tie back to the IVP’s responsibilities.
“You can’t have a requisition until the senate has approved of those minutes,” the senator explained. “So, if you buy something for an event, even if your BCU approved it and all the members were in on it, all that student money that you spend out of your pocket — you can’t get that back because the Senate has never met.”
The AS senator, who wishes to stay anonymous, also confirms that the IVP has failed to appoint a chair for the Finance and Business (F&B) Committee. Thus, Giardello is factually correct when stating that, “AS bank accounts are functionally frozen until we address this crisis.”
“Without F&B, all finances of AS […] they can’t be processed,” the AS senator explained, “SEAL organizations can’t request money.”
“SEAL” describes all entities under Student Engagement & Leadership. This includes campus clubs, organizations, and Greek life sororities and fraternities. Thus, because of Bee’s persisting inaction: campus clubs, organizations, and Greek life cannot request the money that UCSB student fees pay to keep them running. Requisitions put through also cannot be approved in this state of government.
In these times of stalemate, Giardello’s email claims that those who worked to keep UCSB’s student government running during the summer were not paid summer honoraria. The AS senator confirms that this is true; before becoming prominently absent from AS communications this past summer, Schaefer had advocated for summer honoraria legislation that would clarify AS legal code and smoothly provide summer workers their compensation. However, she did not call the summer honoraria committee during the summer.
This was not before she added a piece to the legislation that would ensure honoraria to AS executives, who do not have to go through the honoraria committee. Thus, the AS elected official remarked, the IVP still received pay in her absence, while those who did work over the summer did not.
Regarding her absence, the senator explained that Schaefer was absent for the majority of the summer. There was hearsay within the senate that she was placed on medical leave. However, many within AS were confused to see posts on social media of the IVP in Washington for a UC on the Hill internship this summer. That was all the senator could share about her absence.
“And what were the consequences for rebuffing the association and the social contract between the student body and the elected executive? The IVP collected a paycheck of $3,000 of student fees,” read Giardello’s email.
There are some items within the email that are not accurate or questionable in truthfulness. For example, the senator pointed out, the amount that Giardello uses to compare a chair’s pay to Schaefer’s is actually not $350, it is $450. However, they state that the sentiment is the same.
Additionally, the senator cannot confirm Giardello’s claim that the IVP failed to appoint a pro tempore in her absence to “ensure that they still collected their executive pay despite her absence.”
In the spring, Bee Schaefer did not appoint her pro tempore, a position who would fill in for many of the duties of IVP if she had to step away from the office. It is required by the AS constitution to appoint a first and second pro tempore by the second meeting of the elected senate. However, in her place this summer, it is remarked as an open secret that senator Sohum Kalia has performed the duties of the IVP pro tempore without the appropriate pay. This is a violation of AS legal code.
Giardello and many others are calling for a review of Schaefer’s failed actions. Giardello stated in the email that there will be a senate public forum Wednesday, 6:30 PM, and invites its AS entities to “demand equal and just accountability for our entire organization, including executives.”
Later that Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, Bee Schaefer sent an email to AS Entities calling the AS senate to a meeting for the first time since spring. Giardello’s mentioned public forum will occur during the meeting.
The AS member shared with TBL their sentiments regarding Schaefer’s position, saying, “The fact that student fees are going to the IVP’s paycheck when the IVP is failing to complete her duties — in my mind, that’s theft of student fees […] This is $11 million of student money that is just being held up.”
The senator calls for those who have grievances with the IVP and with how the AS has been running to platform their voices and use the forum.
“Public forum is for you to speak,” they said. “Whether you’re an AS member or just a student here, this is your money. This is your rights we’re representing. If you have a problem with how it’s going down, come say something.”
Bee Schaefer has not yet commented to The Bottom Line Newspaper on this situation.