Senators debate constitutionality of judicial appointment

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

ASUCR’s meeting on Wednesday, May 18 consisted of multiple presentations concerning sustainability and a summary of the work done by University of California’s Student Association (UCSA). The senate then debated over whether they should move forward in replacing a justice who will be graduating at the end of the quarter.

Kevin Sabo, president of the UCSA, spoke about the success of the UConsent campaign, saying, “We adopted it in August of 2014, recognizing that a lot of the issues going on on the UC campus were about sexual violence in the system, whether it is faculty, staff or other students.” In addition to continuing their campaigning, they will advocate the academic senate for mandatory faculty training throughout the UC system to combat problems with sexual harassment on the behalf of faculty members.

In addition to discussing UConsent, Sabo highlighted UCSA’s plans for the future, which include a new campaign entitled #HowAreYou, that lobbies to address the issue of student health and expresses the association’s goals to improve current student housing conditions across the UC.

Students from Protect all Animal Lives (PALs) then gave a presentation on the private business Hampton Creek, a food technology company focused on producing new plant-based foods, which could help UCR increase sustainability on campus through saving water, land and carbon emissions.

The benefits of Hampton Creek’s products and how they would increase the school’s sustainability were listed in the Senate Resolution No. S16-014 “Expanding Sustainability at UC Riverside,” which was authored by Breanna Marshall and Pegah Rashidi and sponsored by President Pro Tempore Cory Willis. The resolution also called, “on (UCR) Dining to address and correct the issue of mislabeling various food products and food items (in the dining halls).”

The resolution passed 6-1-2.

Vice President of Internal Affairs Michael Ervin raised the issue of whether the senate should continue with the appointment of a new justice to fill the position of Justice Catherine Ghipriel, who will vacate the position when she graduates at the end of the quarter. The constitutionality of the appointment was largely disputed, since the position has not yet been vacated. However, President Harano pointed out that their decision to begin interviewing for the position was justified since the new justice would not take over until Ghipriel finished her term.

Harano argued that the topic had been discussed prior to the meeting, stating, “We knew when we appointed her that there would be an issue that we would have to address later.” Harano also voiced her frustration with the topic being raised only three days prior to interviewing students, saying, “This has been going on for so long and so to bring it up three days before we interview students for this, I think is ridiculous. But to address the issue, this individual who is selected would not be filling or taking Catherine’s spot; Catherine will be able to finish out her year and this individual will come in starting in the summer.”

General Advocate Amelia To was present at the meeting and was supportive of Harano’s stance, stating, “I think that I agree with Ashley because the three appointments eliminate bias.” This argument was made in reference to the rule that states that each senate may appoint three justices each year unless there is a vacancy in order to prevent any bias within the judicial branch. If the senate does not appoint a justice this year, then the next senate may appoint four justices, which has the potential to create bias.

Senators still questioned whether the appointment would be constitutional, with Willis arguing, “I don’t think you have court ordered proper procedure and to continue with it just because it has already started doesn’t make any sense.”

Director Melina Reyes agreed with Willis, adding that, “It is not our (position) to try to decide we know what’s best to go beyond what is constitutionally granted to any specific entity.”

The horseshoe then had a closed session to speak with a lawyer and resumed 30 minutes later. When the session resumed, they closed discussion on the appointments. The executive board will move forward with appointing a justice and the senate will vote on whether or not they wish to approve the justice at the next senate meeting.

Highlights:

  • The senate unanimously approved amendments to the office of the vice president of external affairs, which included the establishment of a City Relations Committee “centered around improving and developing relations with the city and community of Riverside.”
  • The “Resolution in Support of the Creation of a Human Rights Board” passed unanimously.
  • The motion to approve Chapter XLVI the ASUCR Senate Internship Program — passed unanimously in an effort to give students “more mediums to get involved with ASUCR.”
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