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Wednesday night’s Associated Student Senate meeting focused on the controversial bill to withdraw funding from the United States Students Association, the upcoming divestment debate and the future of Deltopia, amongst other topics.
UCSB alumni who were involved in student government during their time at the university provided a letter arguing against the withdrawal, with A.S. President Jonathan Abboud countering the opinions stated. Meanwhile, ongoing discussion regarding next year’s Deltopia focused on potentially turning the event into a one sanctioned by the university that would require attendees to wear wristbands. Other topics discussed at the meeting included the removal of cameras in Isla Vista, A.S. elections and a planned open house event for the Pardall Center next Tuesday.
As one of the largest student-led organizations in the nation, the USSA provides educational training and development opportunities to increase effective student leadership at local, state and national levels while aiding low income and underrepresented populations in the national student community. A letter containing signatures from over a dozen former A.S. presidents and UCSB alumni of student government was delivered to the A.S. Senate, advocating that the Senate should vote against the bill.
Despite the letter, Abboud remained committed to withdrawing from USSA. He said the former A.S. presidents and alumni were opposed to the withdrawal because they had an “emotional connection” with the organization.
“It was interesting that the one thing our alumni do care about isn’t our tuition going up. It’s our membership in an external organization, so I disagree with it,” Abboud said.
Having attended previous USSA conferences, Abboud said his personal experiences with the organization led him to believe that it was an ineffective organization.
“I was arrested at one for student debt protesting, so it’s not like I’m some random person who doesn’t have any experience with this organization,” Abboud said. “It’s just very incompetent. It does not work.”
According to Abboud, attempts have been made to improve the organization, but no progress or desire from the organization to progress has been seen.
“We’ve tried to work with them a lot this year to improve the organization, and we’ve seen no actual effort to change,” Abboud said. “We tried to give them a chance.”
On the other hand, Navkiran Kaur, a third-year Black studies and sociology double major and one of this year’s presidential candidates for A.S., said students were not given adequate notice or information about the bill to withdraw from USSA.
“This is a body that represents students, and the fact that no students knew this resolution was coming is a problem,” Kaur said. “This should have been brought up to students months in advance.”
Moving on from the bill, fourth-year Middle Eastern studies major Hani Tajsar of Students for Justice in Palestine gave a short presentation on the divestment efforts and protests in the Arbor. Tajsar said the reason for the holding off on the divestment resolution was in consideration of the Jewish holiday, Passover, which began on April 14 and will end on April 22. However, Tajsar said the protests had to occur during the holiday since participants would not be available during later dates.
“We realize it was on Passover, but the people bringing the wall had weddings this upcoming Sunday, so we can’t bring it for Week Four and we postponed the divestment resolution,” Tajsar said. “So it’s not on Passover — just to clarify.”
Next week’s A.S. Senate meeting will be held at the Corwin Pavilion to accommodate additional members of the public. An increase in the number of audience members expected to attend is due to the upcoming debate over a bill to support divestment in segments of the Israeli economy that potentially contribute to human rights violations.
In regards to Deltopia discussions, university officials are entertaining the idea of hosting a university sanctioned event with hydration stations, stages for music and wristbands as a requirement to attend.
External Vice President of Local Affairs Alex Moore said university officials have narrowed down the scope of options for Deltopia next year to two possibilities: creating a sanctioned event or putting the same type of rules during Halloween weekend on Deltopia weekend.
“It seems that it’s boiled down to really two options — creating a sponsored, sanctioned, sort of fill-in for that weekend, or it’s the Halloween option where you don’t do anything that weekend and just walk around in silence,” Moore said.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.