A.S. Council Brief Weeks 6 & 7: Constitutional Reform, Environmental Advocacy and Strengthening Faculty-Student Communication

Week 6

At the A.S. Council’s Week 6 meeting on May 4, senators discussed A.S. constitution reform, upcoming speaker events, and environmental advocacy initiatives. 

Associate Vice President of Campus Affairs (VPCA) Isaac Lara began with presenting an outline of Constitutional Overhaul. This follows from Lara’s presentation last quarter, when he first introduced proposed changes to the A.S. Constitution. Since then, a number of these constitutional changes have been implemented. 

Major changes include the establishment of a New Executive Officer Structure, which splits Lara’s current role as VPCA into three separate roles, the establishment of standardized hiring protocol, and the elimination of the quantitative two project requirement for A.S. senators.

Following these constitutional changes, Lara will shift his focus to revising the constitution’s standing rules and by-laws. Unlike the constitution, which cannot be suspended and provides a basic skeleton of the senate’s structure, standing rules and by-laws can be suspended if needed and are much more detailed in their descriptions of A.S. policies and procedures.

Next, the A.S. moved to discuss updates on senator projects, as well as providing senator reports. Arts and Humanities Academic Senator Rhianen Callahan spoke about their interest in implementing initiatives that facilitate conversations between faculty members and students on student experiences. They explained that such dialogue would allow faculty members and students to jointly advocate against university-wide policies that are less accepting of student experiences, as well as advocate for improved accommodations for students.

Callahan also promoted their May 9 event, Global Freedom Struggles in Kashmir and Palestine. The event invited speakers to discuss academic privilege and rights in research. Callahan has been a staunch advocate for transparency in research, having highlighted a UC San Diego professor who has been accused of breaching research ethics in their thesis project on Kashmiri clinics at previous A.S. meetings.

First-Year Senator Xavier Lopez then provided updates on the Zero Waste Equitable Hygiene Project. Lopez plans to table on May 27 to educate and encourage students to use laundry detergent sheets in lieu of Tide Pods or other liquid detergents. Laundry detergent sheets, Lopez explains, are more environmentally friendly as they result in less plastic waste and fewer carbon emissions.

A.S. continued to discuss the Constitutional Overhaul. Specifically, Lara invited senators to provide input on ways to enhance connection between A.S. and college councils, as well as discussing the number of senators each college council should have. Previously, Lara had proposed that the number of college council senators be reduced from two to one.

Week 7

At the A.S. Council’s Week 7 meeting on May 11, senators continued to discuss constitutional reform. Additionally, they discussed the Global Freedom Struggles in Kashmir and Palestine event held that Monday. 

Starting off the meeting, Associate Vice President of Campus Affairs (VPCA) Isaac Lara continued his presentation on A.S. constitutional reform. Continuing in the vein of his Week 7 presentation, Lara presented a final draft of the revised constitution, and invited A.S. members to provide their feedback. 

In addition to fleshing out specific details of the proposed changes from the week prior, Lara also introduced new amendments in response to feedback from senators. One of the major amendments proposed this week was the reforming of A.S. terms to align with the UC San Diego fiscal calendar, as a means of facilitating processes with the campus. 

Transfer Senator Anna Zick reported that the training for transfer orientation leaders had been completed. Zick had also met with college council presidents to present Zick’s transfer committee charter, as well as invite college council transfer representatives to serve on the committee. All transfer representatives agreed to join the committee. 

Following that, Callahan updated the council on the Global Freedom Struggles in Kashmir and Palestine event that had been held that Monday. The virtual panel had invited May Shigenobu, a visiting scholar at the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside; Huma Dar, an adjunct professor of Critical Studies at California College of the Arts; and Taher Herzallah, director of Outreach and Community Organizing of American Muslims for Palestine.

 A.S. Council meetings take place at 6 p.m. every Wednesday and are open to students. Students can participate in these meetings by joining their Zoom link or tuning in on Facebook Live.

Art by Ava Bayley for The UCSD Guardian.

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