During the ASUCR meeting on Wednesday May 29, the newly elected senate began their term after the conclusion of the 2018-19 senate members’ last meeting.
During new business, Abigail Cortes, the newly elected executive vice president, stated that ASUCR Constitutional Amendment Three, which was on the elections ballot this year and passed, increased the number of ASUCR senators by two. This increase would include one senator from the School of Public Policy (SPP) and one senator from the undergraduate majors of the Graduate School of Education (GSOE). The change, according to the amendment, would take affect beginning summer 2019.
During the meeting, Cortes stated “It just so happens that we have two newly-elected CHASS senators who meet that criteria.” Cortes claimed that typically ASUCR would have an election for these positions and they would be elected by the student body but “because the constitutional amendment was not in place at the time, the senate would have to take a vote to transition these senators to their respective colleges so that they may represent their colleges best,” stated Cortes.
This transition, added Cortes, would prompt her to contact two CHASS senator alternates to take the missing position of the two CHASS senators. Newly elected President Pro Tempore and CHASS Senator Preeti Juturu would transition as a SPP senator while newly elected CHASS Senator Evelin Castaneda would transition to senator of GSOE. This proposition prompted a debate between Castaneda, Juturu and the senate.
Juturu expressed her concern over this transition stating “Yes, I am a SPP major. The student body at the SPP however, did not elect me to represent them. I don’t think it is fair for me to represent the entirety of SPP when I was not elected by them.” She also stated “The biggest issue with this proposition is the vacancies of CHASS senator seats. The runner-ups were not elected by the student body. They did not choose them to represent them.”
Castaneda also expressed her concern with the transition. She stated “I was voted to be CHASS senator not a GSOE senator. We should wait for someone to be elected instead of throwing us into that position.” Julian Gonzalez, the newly elected president of ASUCR, voiced his support for the transition. He stated “I understand both of your concerns but I believe it is important to have more representation of the student body. Instead of 16 voices we could have 18.” Juturu, however, stated that it would be more fair to hold a special election to fulfill these positions.
After further debate, Castaneda and Juturu eventually agreed to the transition. The motion to transition Castaneda to the GSOE passed 15-0-0 and the motion to transition Juturu to the SPP passed 15-0-0.
In an interview with the Highlander, Evelin Castaneda stated that when she was first approached by Cortes about the transition, she supported the transition but changed her mind during the meeting. Cortes stated that while she had concerns about the transition she, “didn’t mind being a GSOE senator.”
Juturu stated in an interview with the Highlander that the decision to transition herself and Castaneda into new positions was too big of a decision to squeeze in at the end of the meeting. She stated, “They are throwing me into this position by default just because I am a public policy major when other people would love to run for senator of SPP. Other students deserve to get that chance.” She emphasized that the entire situation was, “frustrating … a proposal for a special election would have been more fair.”