ASUCR public policy senator and president pro tempore publicly resigns at ASUCR meeting

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, ASUCR held their second meeting of the quarter.

At the start of the meeting, Public Policy Senator and President Pro Tempore Preeti Juturu motioned to amend the agenda to add a discussion over SB-F19-018 which was discussed at last week’s ASUCR meeting. Juturu stated that there are inconsistencies within the bill. The motion to add discussion over SB-F19-018 passed 13-0-2.

During Public Forum, ASUCR President Julian Gonzalez gave an update on what he was working on this quarter. Gonzalez stated that this year he will be focusing on increasing voter engagement on campus. He stated, “I am working with the external office to create events to get students to register to vote for the March primary … I want to get students educated.”

Gonzalez then went on to reflect on the senate’s performance last quarter. Gonzalez stated, “The work that the senate has done has been minimum to none … you guys are required to put on events and while some of you put on events, others just added parts of their budget to it and stamped their name on it … you guys need to work together to plan creative ideas. I know it is not always easy but that’s what you were elected to do and students are expecting a lot from us. You guys should be putting forth a 110% effort.”

Gonzalez then went on to state that the ASUCR Marketing and Promotions Director William Wang has concerns because he and his committee have not had many events to promote. He stated that if the Marketing Committee cannot do its job, that responsibility falls partly on the senate and reflects on the job they are doing. “I don’t want to sugarcoat it. You should be doing a lot more. If you can’t handle it, you should not have run for ASUCR, to be completely honest, because this is a hard job. The same way you guys keep me accountable, this is the way I keep you accountable,” stated Gonzalez.

Samir Al-Alami, a fourth-year political science major also addressed the senate during Public Comment. Al-Alami stated that he wanted to address the senate’s lack of accountability regarding a senate resolution that members of Student For Justice in Palestine (SJP) are trying to get a senator to sponsor. Al-Alami stated that the resolution would address academic freedom on UCR’s campus in regards to the executive order issued by President Donald Trump that would allow the government to interpret Judaism as both a race or nationality and religion under federal law. This executive order would permit the U.S. Department of Education to take measures against what Trump views as anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Al-Alami stated, “What this executive order means is that it will attack academic freedom on this campus because it means if you critique anything about the state of Israel, it will be considered anti-Semetic.” Samir went on to state that he expected more courage from the senate to actually at least propose revisions and possibly have this resolution ready for that day’s meeting. He also stated, “To stand complicit against these injustices is a grave injustice upon this institution … a few years ago, students attempted to ban Sabra hummus from being sold on campus. You wouldn’t believe the blowback that senators received. The Israeli consulate called. But senators still stood up and voted on the resolution and it passed so why can’t it happen again today?”

Shawn Martinez, a member of UCR’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) also addressed the senate on the subject. Martinez stated, “I was made aware that one of the senators was reached out to sponsor the bill but their immediate concern was the controversy it could cause … I urge the student government to come together to stand in solidarity with a threatened minority on-campus.” He noted that if any senator would like to learn more, SJP would be happy to speak with them one-on-one about the issue. Juturu addressed Martinez’s and Al-Alami’s concerns stating that the bill was not on the agenda because the Legislative Review Committee (LRC) did not meet this week, but a senator would still be needed to sponsor the bill before it can be considered.

CNAS Senator Matthew Nguyen also addressed Martinez and stated that he was the senator who was approached to sponsor the bill, but chose not to sponsor it not just because it is a controversial topic, but also because he was not informed enough about the topic at hand and did not feel comfortable sponsoring it due to his lack of information.

The meeting then moved on to Committee Reports. Juturu broke down what she believed were inaccuracies within SB-F19-018. Juturu stated that according to Article 4, Section A, Item 1 of the ASUCR constitution, it states that the executive cabinet shall consist of five executive officers and five non-voting director positions. Article 4, Section H, Item 2 states that candidates for any executive officer position must have one year of ASUCR experience.

SB-F19-018 states that the five non-voting members positions shall be considered a part of the extended executive branch and that these members do not need one year of ASUCR experience except for the undergraduate sustainability director, personnel director and the marketing and promotions director. Juturu stated that this bill is redundant because the constitution states that the executive cabinet needs one year of experience, but not necessarily the directors. The senate then approved rescinding SB-F19-018 with a vote of 12-0-3.

After the bill was rescinded, the meeting moved on to public comment. Juturu first approached the podium and stated, “I announce my resignation from both of my positions. I have other priorities that I need to turn my attention to and I need to step back from ASUCR affairs to take care of my personal affairs and because I am disappointed in the senate for not critically thinking about any of the issues that we have had in the past … I do not think that is going to change any time soon.” She stated that she has done her job to ensure that all of ASUCR has the tools and the necessary resources to write legislation well. She stated that she hopes that her fellow senators can take up legislation and write impactful and meaningful legislative pieces throughout the year and that it is accurate and thorough in nature.

“Before I go, I would like to emphasize that it takes every senator, every director, every vice president and the president within ASUCR to work diligently, honestly and with precision in order to benefit the interests of the public,” stated Juturu. She claimed that they were all elected to serve the common good and to set aside their self interests in order to create significant policy change. She said, “I hope that one day, due to the hard work of every single ASUCR elected official, ASUCR can become an organization that students associate with professionalism, progress, and comprehensive positive change.”

Though she will not hold a title anymore, Juturu said that she will continue to work on the projects she has been working on. She thanked her constituents for voting her in, her interns and the friends she made during her time at ASUCR. She concluded her statement saying, “I wish my colleagues sitting on the horseshoe the best of luck in their future pursuits. I hope that by the end of the academic year each one of you would have left behind a legacy of through the work that you did. Thank you again and it has been an honor and privilege to have served as your senator and pro tempore.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Executive Vice President Abigail Cortes announced that there is a CHASS senator vacancy and that the alternate has already agreed to fill the position. This follows CHASS Senator Aaron Sanchez’s resignation. Sanchez’s and Juturu’s resignations mark the fourth and fifth ASUCR resignations of the 2019-2020 year. She also announced that the distribution of R’Gear will be taking place Wednesday Jan. 15. Due to the R’Gear event, the ASUCR meeting will be rescheduled and will not be taking place Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. At the time of writing, the rescheduled time and date are yet to be determined.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:49 p.m.

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