On Wednesday, Oct. 7, ASUCR held their first meeting of the quarter. The new Senate voted to clarify items in the ASUCR Constitution and to add a constitutional amendment to the 2021 ASUCR Election ballot.
CA-F20-002, which proposed to reform the amendment process of the ASUCR Constitution, caused the most debate throughout the meeting. The bill aimed to reform the ways in which a constitutional amendment may be proposed, which currently requires either the presentation of a petition to the Senate signed by at least 15% of the undergraduate student body or an affirmative two-thirds vote from the Senate in order for it to be placed in an ASUCR General Election.
Orlando Cabalo, president pro tempore, CHASS senator and primary author of the bill, stated that this change would bring direct democracy into the voting process of ASUCR because the amount of student signatures needed would be more feasible. Last year’s voter turnout for the ASUCR General Election was 11%, and aiming to get 15% of the voting population to sign a petition would be nearly impossible, stated Cabalo. According to Cabalo, the bill was modeled after the Associated Student of UC Irvine Constitution, which also requires a signature from 2% of the student population.
CHASS Senator Christopher Kent raised concerns over the 2% requirement being too low. “I know that we have had a hard time with turnout in past elections but I do worry that in a hypothetical scenario … 2% of the student body could wield their power and push through a lot of amendments,” he stated. UCR’s current population is 22,055, meaning that 2% of the undergraduate student body would be about 441 students. Executive Director of ASUCR Laurie Sinclair then clarified that the vote from the Senate on CA-F20-002 would only allow it to be on the ASUCR Election ballot in April, not approve it. The motion then passed with a vote of 15-2-0, meaning these constitutional amendments will be placed on the ballot for the next ASUCR General Election.
During the meeting, members of the Native American Honors Society, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Native American Student Association presented SB-F20-002, a bill that would update and outline the purpose, membership and tasks of the Indigenous Student Task Force and reinforce it as an active committee within ASUCR. “We want to make sure that this is not performative … this would be a really great opportunity to get to build on some real change,” stated Brandon Molina Berrios, vice president of the Native American Student Association. The motion passed unanimously with a vote of 18-0-0.
The Senate approved SB-F20-001 and updated the bylaws for the Office of the Vice President of Campus Internal Affairs by including job duties for two new positions, the chief of staff and executive assistant, as well as updating the duties of the communications director. SB-F20-003 and CA-F20-001 both passed unanimously, updating the duties of the president pro tempore and proposing the amendment of the ASUCR Constitution to make it the supreme document of ASUCR, respectively. Finally, the Senate also approved CA-F20-003 to amend the veto process for the Executive Cabinet and only require a two-thirds majority of the Senate instead of a unanimous vote.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.