Senators-elect choose new officers
After the end of a three-hour-long session on May 6, senators-elect performed one of their first official duties by filling the final three positions in next year’s ASUCR. Senator Aaron Johnson was elected as the new president pro tempore, senate Parliamentarian Christopher Sanchez was chosen as the incoming elections director and member of the Office of Internal Affairs Annie Hwang was selected to inaugurate the role of marketing and advertising director. Senators-elect cast their ballots in secret, with the winner receiving a plurality of votes cast.
The three candidates for president pro tempore emphasized their desire to increase the amount of communication and collaboration between the senate and the executive cabinet (ECAB). “We need to make this senate and this ECAB one unit,” Senator Niela Darmani explained.
Senator Johnson ultimately defeated Senator Darmani and Academic Affairs Director and Senator-elect Shadi Matar by stressing his experience on the Legislative Review Committee (LRC). The president pro tempore oversees the LRC, the committee in charge of drafting and reviewing legislation.
The most competitive contest was for elections director and centered on increasing student engagement in the wake of a dismal 17 percent student turnout rate. Solutions offered by candidates Trelynd Bowls, Angelica Ortiz and Sam Shin, in addition to Sanchez, included increasing use of social media and appealing to commuters.
The conversation turned to laptopping, which permits candidates to directly solicit votes from students. Sanchez expressed his personal support for laptopping, suggesting it would provide more voting opportunities. Incoming Vice President of External Affairs Kareem Aref expressed fears that candidates would pressure students into voting for them, resulting in corruption. Sanchez responded by specifying that, “It’s not a set thing that I’m going to do right away—it is something that we need to have a conversation about.” Sanchez also expressed his desire to end the current incentive system for voting.
The last position was the newly-created marketing and advertising director, who would oversee the promotion of ASUCR events and outreach to the UCR community. Candidates Ravin Rathod, Christine Shi and Annie Hwang each showcased examples of their graphic design and the techniques they would use for campus outreach. Hwang was ultimately elected, advocating for improving ASUCR’s Facebook page and events calendar. “The thing with social media is that if you don’t know how to use it efficiently it’s not going to work,” Hwang said.
Senate provides updates and transition advice
Two days after the special elections, the senators addressed an array of issues during their weekly ASUCR meeting. Many unresolved issues were discussed as senators planned their forthcoming transition out of office.
Senators first gave updates on projects they have been working on this year. Senator Jeanette Lau announced that she would be crafting a referendum for elections next year that would bring back trolleys to UCR, which were previously shut down due to expense. Meanwhile, Senator Ben Pengson highlighted his plans to incorporate cell phone charging stations in the HUB.
Senators address racial profiling near campus
Outreach Director Cortni Thomas raised concerns regarding cases of racial profiling occurring on campus after an African-American student filed a report stating that he felt discriminated against by the Riverside Police Department, having been stopped for identification five times in three days. Many other African-American students reported similar encounters of police harassment in the wake of a recent uptick in crime.
“I don’t understand why people, who are clearly students … are being targeted and asked for identification just because of our skin color … I feel that is unfair and unjust,” said Thomas. “We, as students, are coming to speak to UCPD, as well as Riverside PD … I’m just asking for support from the senate … by coming to assist this dialogue … because I don’t want this to continue anymore.”
President of External Affairs Lazaro Cardenas gave solemn words to all senators, sternly reminding them of their role as senators before they pass the baton on to future senators. “You are the elected body of this entire university! This university is here because you are here!” he proclaimed.
Vice President of Campus Internal Affairs Kevin Jo addressed the same issue, urging senators to be more engaged in forming the new campus safety guidelines. “Thousands of students voted for you, so that you could be here. This is not your time; this is their time.” He called on senators to attend the campus town hall meeting about campus safety on May 14 in HUB 302. “We need student support there … We need your critique, your praise and your everything.”
Senate responds to ruling by judicial branch
Executive Vice President Armando Saldana addressed the judicial branch’s ruling that ASUCR violated the Required Reading Bylaw during the vote on the Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid resolution. He called the proposed changes offered by the judicial branch “a recommendation.”
“As of right now, the required reading policy stands,” Saldana announced. Saldana did not address the judicial branch’s ruling that ASUCR should implement a survey that requires candidates detail their stances on student-selected issues.
Next year’s budget includes plans for club-centered Bear Den
Vice President of Finance Crystal Kim presented the finalized budgets for the ASUCR offices, including plans for the Bear Den, which would take the place of the now-closed Exchange Store in the HUB. Allocated $18,800, the Bear Den is envisioned as a place for clubs to meet and is funded by “the clubs’ pool of money,” Kim explained.
“We’re going to turn this whole place into an area where clubs can come in, rent it out, hold their meetings, whatever events they want to hold,” Kim announced. “They have a huge amount of money with us and this is another way for them to use it.”
Leftover funds from the Exchange and the Academic Affairs Committee will be dispersed within the Office of Internal Affairs. Other changes included the judicial branch being allotted a budget of $330; they previously had no budget. The Office of the Executive Vice President was allocated an additional $4,000 for ASUCR’s fall retreat.