The A.S. Council Takes On Genocide — But Should It?

Right when it appeared that the outgoing A.S. Council had one foot out the door, the string of relatively uneventful meetings was broken with a heated debate over the parameters of the council’s participation in debates surrounding social and political affairs.

Although the council has technically entered the lame-duck phase of its term after the election of its successor at the end of last week, that did not stop passionate speeches, flared tempers and even tears over a proposed resolution to support the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Week.

Submitter Revelle College freshman Hovannes Nalbondyan designed the resolution to show council support for UCSD implementation of the memorial week. However, the resolution quickly drew criticism from John Muir College Sophomore Senator Aida Kuzucan, who claimed that the legislation was too quick to place blame on the Turkish people for the killings. Kuzucan is of Turkish descent.

“This is a controversial issue and there are two sides to it,” Kuzucan said. “The remembrance week is not about blame, but recognition.”

While many were undecided on the idea itself, several councilmembers questioned whether or not it was the council’s duty to make statements on controversial political matters.

“I don’t think 90 percent of the people in this room know anything about this,” Senate Chair Josh Martino said, drawing mixed looks from the others in the room. “Why now? In general, we make too many decisions without knowing what the hell is going on.”

While Martino received some snaps of assent, the council’s method of registering agreement, his remarks did not sit well with everyone.

“To say that our council shouldn’t handle any issues like this, I have a big problem with that,” President Christopher Sweeten said. “A.S. is supposed to be an advocacy group.”

Another argument against voting on the resolution was that the councilmembers did not have the time or opportunity to research the background of the resolution, and felt unprepared to make a decision on it.

“Wow!” Commissioner of Student Advocacy Travis Silva said, as the debate grew more animated. “I recall now why I missed — skipped — all [the meetings] of winter quarter. Come prepared to do your job.”

While some senators protested that they do indeed perform research before they vote, it took upward of 30 minutes and an emotional plea from Nalbondyan before the council decided it was willing to vote on it.

“This is a very sensitive issue,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes. “This is about people killing other people.”

Ultimately, after objections and accusations flew back and forth across the table, the councilmembers decided that it was within their rights to handle matters of this nature. The amended resolution was ultimately adopted in a 10-5-2 vote. While a month before the end of their terms could be interpreted as a little late to be second-guessing their own mission, the councilmembers did eventually come to a decision — one that may aid the new council in the difficult transition process as the faces filling the offices soon change.