Outreach efforts dominate discussion during ASUCR meeting

Elections director expresses disappointment with low voter turnout

The fourth ASUCR meeting of the quarter took place on Wednesday, April 24. The meeting was called to order at 6:35 p.m.

The meeting then moved on to officer reports. Connie Wi, the marketing director reported that she has been working closely with Elections Director Laura Pullen to market for voting week. She also stated that her committee recently conducted a Hydro Flask giveaway. Personnel Director Nataly Morales stated that her committee is working on planning a campus safety event to inform students about safety on campus. They hope to provide students with tips on how to walk around campus safely and create a map of all the blue emergency call boxes and emergency phones. Morales also stated that her committee is working to find a space on campus for international students because international students have expressed that they do not feel as if they have a space for them on campus. They have been working with the extension center to create a year-round space for them.

Outreach Director Carolyn Chang stated that her committee attended two Moreno Valley high schools — Canyon Springs High School and Valley View High School. Chang stated that her committee presented to a number of high schools about UCR. When presenting at Canyon Springs High School, the Outreach Committee spoke to students who have already signed their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) and discussed crucial deadlines with students.

In response, CHASS Senator Mehvish Ali then asked Chang if her committee goes through undergraduate admissions prior to going to presentations at high schools as a precaution. Ali noted that there are crucial deadlines for incoming freshman students that she does not want misconstrued. Chang then stated that her and her committee do not meet with undergraduate admissions prior to their presentations. Ali then stated, “I do recommend meeting with undergraduate admissions to ensure that the information you are presenting to high school students is correct.” Chang then replied, “I will make sure to inform the new Outreach Director.”

Pullen then updated the Senate on the current state of elections and voter turnout. By the end voting on Wednesday, voter turnout was at approximately eight percent (as of Friday, April 26, voter turnout was at approximately 14.7 percent). The low voter turnout, stated Pullen, is incredibly disappointing and concerning especially considering all of the food and raffle incentives her committee has been working on as well as all of the advertising they have been promoting. She also stated that her committee was running into multiple issues with IT Services and their elections website. Pullen stated that they have had several glitches in the system but stated that, “we luckily able to fix them but, we are going to look more into glitches in the system.”

Vice President of Internal Affairs Jose Cortez-Hernandez stated that his committee saved a lot of excess funding from the Beyond R’Margins Conference and encouraged senators who may need funding for any projects that they wished to immediately begin working on to speak to him because he has extra funds.

During her committee report, Executive Vice President (EVP) Andrea Cuevas stated that her office tried to reach out to political science professors at UCR to discuss ASUCR and the importance of voting. Cuevas claimed that she only received two responses out of all the emails she sent out and one of the responses she received was negative. Cuevas stated, “That was really disheartening. I thought that the political science department would care more about civic engagement even at the university level.”  

During public comment, Ali approached the podium and expressed her concerns with disrespectful and negative comments made about candidates running in this years elections. Ali stated, “in the elections code it is illegal to slander candidates. It will get you a strike. When you talk negative about other candidates, it sheds a negative light on ASUCR and discourages future candidates from running and getting involved.”

Joel Sanchez, a second-year computer engineering major and former BCOE senator expressed concerns he had with ASUCR during public forum as well. Sanchez stated that he feels as if only a few candidates have been campaigning and tabling which he believes is a large contribution the the low voter turnout. Sanchez also expressed his concern with how quickly most ASUCR meetings tend to proceed. He stated, “it seems to have become a trend in these meetings that you guys are just simply passing legislation unanimously when I know you guys may have different stances on issues.” He claimed that the meetings feel stagnant and stale.

He then addressed Cuevas and stated, “I feel as if Cuevas, you are the conductor of this train. You just pass through the agenda so quickly and no one objects or stops for a minute or has anything to say.” Sanchez also expressed his concerns with the amount of excused absences at ASUCR meetings. He again directly addressed Cuevas and stated, “You excuse so many absences that the word ‘excused’ no longer holds meaning.”

Justin Domecillo, a fourth-year English major, also addressed the senate during public comment. Domecillo addressed what he felt were four important issues: the hostility between ASUCR and the student body, hiring and firing procedures, tabling and the use of Chick-fil-A as an incentive during elections week. Domecillo noted that ASUCR needs to be more open and honest with each other in order to improve their relationship with the student body. Referencing the recent dismissal of former Parliamentarian Jose Rodriguez, Domecillo suggested that the firing of any executive cabinet members be voted on by the senate in order to remain transparent and fair.

In order to address ASUCR’s failure to meet their tabling bylaw that is required by the Senate Accessibility and Transparency Act, Domecillo suggested that ASUCR elect at least one or two people who have the time to table on Wednesdays. He also then urged ASUCR to remove Chick-fil-A from their pre-approved list of vendors because he believes that the company does not support the LGBTQ community.

BCOE Senator Sarah Al-Khalili then addressed the Senate during public comment and claimed that she wrote a senate bill a few weeks ago however it has yet to be discussed. She stated that her bill specifically targets the issue of transparency and expressed her concerns that it has yet to be discussed or put on the agenda. Her bill proposes that anything that is discussed during ASUCR meetings must be sent to students in order to keep them informed and aware of what is occuring during their meetings. In response to her concerns, Gonzalez stated that Legislative Review Committee (LRC) was reading over her legislation and determined that parts of the legislation involved changing roles of the EVP and decided to table the legislation in order to first initiate a conversation between the author of the legislation and the EVP in order to “avoid a heated discussion on the horseshoe.”

CHASS Senator Chelsea Davenport then questioned whether the LRC tabled the amendment at the last LRC meeting because she was not made aware of it. In response, Gonzalez stated, “Yes, but you were absent at the meeting. I was not informed from you that you were going to be absent.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, ASUCR President Semi Cole addressed the senate and stated, “As we are drawing to the conclusion of the quarter and the end of your terms, I think it’s really important that you guys use the time that you have left to really get things done.” Cole also stated, “resolutions are powerful but they are more powerful when they have actual strategic action plans … it is not enough to just write legislation. You have to write legislation that is actually impactful.”

The meeting was adjourned at 7:58 p.m. ASUCR meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in HUB 221.

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