It’s Deja Vu — Political Issues Split Apart the A.S. Council

Although the A.S. Council expressed concern at the April 19 meeting about whether or not passing politically oriented legislation was part of its mission, the councilmembers have apparently reached a consensus on the issue. Just a week after intense debate over a resolution supporting remembrance for Armenian genocide, the council tackled the controversial issue of illegal immigration and the current proposals in Congress.

Public input was much more than the usual scattering, with around 10 to 15 students representing both supporters of the resolution and students eager to discuss the council caucus item: How to eliminate sources of hate speech on campus.

John Muir College Freshman Senator Jonathan Hicken, who submitted the immigration resolution, moved to pull council support for the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill from his resolution after certain members of the public requested its removal. The bill, currently being considered in the U.S. Senate, was designed to combine tougher border security with a guest worker program to allow illegal immigrants to begin transitioning to legal status.

While the council voted to remove that provision without much debate, what drew much more criticism was a motion to remove support for the upcoming Day of Inaction, a walkout protest scheduled for May 1 in support of immigrant rights.

“This resolution has teeth, but it’s biting into a poisonous apple,” Sixth College Chair Chris Sholley said, noting the possible contradiction in the student government’s support for students walking out of their classes.

Commissioner of Student Advocacy Travis Silva, who submitted his own version of the resolution that was later merged with Hicken’s, urged the senators to take a cohesive stance on the resolution, even if it meant sacrificing support for the Day of Inaction.

After more than 45 minutes of debate, the very divided council ultimately voted to remove the clause in a 13-3-0 vote. All but three of the resolution’s supporters, sighing and shaking their heads, left the room before the item as a whole even reached a vote.

“I believe that walkout was in the result of the vote,” Hicken said. “Twenty people just walked out of the room because of that. Please, someone, reconsider.”

However, no senator did move to reconsider, and after the traditional process of beating all their points into the ground, the councilmembers approved the resolution in a 12-4-0 vote. Despite the air of exhaustion and lingering emotion over the item, Vice President Internal Angela Fornero had nothing but words of congratulations for the council.

“I think that we did a much better job in handling things this time,” she said, referring to the lack of snide comments and personal attacks that highlighted the last time the council attempted to handle a resolution of this nature. With one meeting to go and many already on autopilot, it’s refreshing to see that there’s still someone cheering in the council’s corner.