1/18 A.S. Council Column

The Associated Student Council received a resignation from both Vice President of External Affairs Lauren Roberts and Associate Vice President of Health and Wellness Jonathan Slowey last week. The week two meeting covered new additions in the attendance policy of AVPs and introduced language that defined an interview process for filling the positions of Vice Presidents. Stay tuned for the UCSD Guardian’s upcoming story regarding these changes.

The meeting began on a Wednesday evening in the PC forum on the fourth floor of Price Center. CALPIRG entered the room during public input and reminded us all that they exist and are working on multiple projects on the campus. Currently, the public interest group is working on powering UC San Diego with renewable energy and is leading various campaigns to stop fracking in the state of California, save the bees in La Jolla and end student hunger.

A.S. Council President Daniel Juarez announced that, due to the resignation of the VP of External Affairs, Adan Chavez will be serving as the interim VP for the time being. She mentioned that there is a surprising lack of documentation when it comes to the process of finding a new VP in the event of a resignation. Juarez also noted that the AVP of Health and Wellness had also resigned and that a search committee will be formed as soon as possible to fill the position.

Vice President of Campus Affairs Sabrina Ekdahl brought information to the senate from a meeting she had with the CEO of RoboCop, a security company that produces Sound Grenades.

Sound Grenades are compact, loud sound deterrents used for personal protection. Once the pin is pulled, a 120 dB siren is broadcasted from the tiny device for 30 minutes, or until the pin is plugged back in. According to RoboCop, the Sound Grenade is a safer alternative to pepper spray. Whereas with pepper spray one needs to be in close proximity and risk arming the attacker, a Sound Grenade is much safer and does not deter any bystander from intervening. Ekdahl noted that almost all the UC schools, except UC Davis and UC Merced, have already adopted the use of Sound Grenades for personal protection.

The meeting was going smoothly and the discussion of the introduction of Sound Grenades on campus was strangely compelling. This quickly changed when the senate shifted to a vote on language that was brought to the senate introducing the attendance policy rules that would mandate council work hours for AVPs.

To be more precise, the language says, “Each Associate Vice President must commit to a minimum of five ‘working hours’ to be completed in their allocated office space each week. The purpose of such hours shall be used specifically to complete office work, to collaborate on office work with other members of A.S. [Council] and to conduct any necessary meetings related to office business. The executive officer who oversees each specific AVP shall implement oversight procedures to ensure weekly hours are completed. No AVP may request an exception to this clause. This rule shall apply only during A.S. working weeks defined as weeks during the academic quarter less finals week. University breaks are not A.S. working weeks.”

One would think that, overall, this is a small piece of legislation, requiring only a cursory glance and perhaps a quick debate. Wrong. Discussion of these six sentences of policy would stretch on for 35 full minutes (yes, I counted). I would be more forgiving of this half hour had it not been spent so inefficiently. Comment after comment expressed similar concerns over the harshness of the language and many people opined on the lack of necessity for the rule. The entire senate’s time was wasted over debates of policy that should have taken place outside of the weekly senate meetings. Additionally, and perhaps more curiously, certain individuals would spend multiple paragraphs of speech expressing an idea that could have been done so with a single sentence. It reminds me of Orwell’s third rule of writing: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”

In boredom, I began to fantasize about my plans for the rest of my Wednesday evening. I was snapped back to reality when, to my delight, the time allotted for the discussion had come to an end, only for my hopes to be crushed by a time extension. Five minutes later, with a second time extension in motion I was about ready to leave when they actually had the senators raise their hands and vote on the extension. With a 1313 tie on the second time extension vote, the senate voted another time, only this time to table the language to committee for another week. Yep, that’s right. We are going to go over all of this again next week.

The next 30 minutes of council moved surprisingly quickly, perhaps due to the exhaustion members may have felt with the issue of AVP work hours. Many senators looked on with dead fish eyes as the senate finished the rest of its business of the day by passing language with amendments defining an interview process for filling the newly opened seats due to the recent resignations.

The final roster of the search committee to pick individuals in the case of a Vice President’s resignation or removal includes:

(i) The President or designee, who shall chair the committee, (ii) The Vice President of External Affairs or The Vice President of Campus Affairs (depending on which one resigned/was removed), (iii) The Financial Controller and (iv) Four senators appointed by the president.

The committee will solicit applications for the positions, screen and interview candidates for the position and make a recommendation to the President on the appointment of the Vice President. The President will consider the recommendation of the committee and submit a nominee for the position to the senate. The senate can then approve the nomination by simple majority.

A.S. Council Senate meetings are open to the public and take place Wednesdays starting at 6 p.m. at the PC Forum, located on the fourth floor of Price Center.