ASUCR ratifies new staff and elects new elections director

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, ASUCR held their fifth meeting of the quarter, where they worked to ratify new staff for the Office of Vice President of Sustainability and the judicial branch. The senate also took part in a special election to confirm the new elections director.

During Ex-Officio Reports, Vice President of Sustainability Vanessa Gomez-Alvarado introduced Alondra Martinez as the new vice chair of her office, Ariana Turner as the marketing and outreach director, Zoe Arkin as programming director and Hannah O’Brien as the policy director. The senate approved Gomez-Alvarado’s choices with a vote of 15-0-1.

ASUCR President Luis Huerta also presented his staff for judicial council. Typically, there are six students that sit on the judicial council to comprise six justices. The judicial council works to settle disputes between the association, specifically when there are violations of the ASUCR constitution. There were three vacancies within the council, and Huerta introduced three students, Joseph Phee, Daresh Vandaru and Muhammad Amuazon, to present a short speech  on why they would be fit for the position.

Vandaru spoke first, thanking the senate and Huerta for the opportunity. He highlighted his experience as a judicial fellow last year and stated that it gave him the tools he needs to succeed in the judicial branch. Vandaru stated that he is passionate about research and analysis and that he will uphold the ASUCR constitution and make logic-based decisions.

Phee, a third-year biology major, stated that he has a strong interest in politics and service. While he has not served in any ASUCR position in the past, he understands the importance of student government and sees the judicial branch as the backbone to the success of ASUCR. As a justice, Phee says he will be open-minded: his decisions will be based on fact and integrity, and transparency will always come first. 

Finally, Amuazon briefed the senate on his former experience as chief justice for the associated students at Mt. San Antonio College. Before transferring to UCR in the fall, he stated that he was involved in and solved many cases surrounding judicial, legal and student misconduct. In his position, Amuazon hopes to bring a unique and diverse voice to the judicial council.

All three justices were approved with a vote of 17-0-0.

During the approval of the finance hearing minutes, Vice President of Finance William Wang allocated $5,867 from the contingency budget to Huerta as part of an outstanding Black Lives Matter (BLM) donation that has yet to be distributed. Wang explained that by allocating the donation to President Huerta’s budget, they can start the process of discussing how to allocate those funds to the correct cause and individuals. The contingency budget consists of non-student fees and instead comes from the money ASUCR makes from vending machines and ATMs across campus.  

During Senator Reports, Connely Neufeld, third-year mechanical engineering major, introduced himself to the senate as the new BCOE senator after Natalie Campos resigned last week. 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:59 p.m. but quickly transitioned into a special election to choose a new elections director for the year. Former Elections Director and current Personnel Director Sean Nguyen nominated fourth-year biology major, Lama Yassine, to fill the position, and she addressed the senate about her goals for the year. 

Yassine plans to increase voter turnout during ASUCR elections and make campaigning processes easier for candidates. During her CNAS Senator campaign last year, Yassine noticed that many of her peers were unsure how to cast their ballots online. “The biggest form of voter suppression is when students don’t know how to vote,” stated Yassine. As elections director, she plans to prepare tutorials on the various ASUCR platforms to make the process as simple as possible. Another one of her goals is to encourage students to vote by giving away prizes that they would find beneficial, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as food and grocery gift cards.  “Nothing is more valuable to the elections than the students,” stated Yassine. After a brief discussion, the senate elected Yassine as the new elections director with a vote of 17-0-0.

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