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A.S. Senate Debates Election Code Update and University Investments

Wednesday night’s Associated Students Senate meeting focused on a bill to encourage “socially responsible” investments using university funding as well as a bill to change the electoral process of the A.S. elections.

The resolution regarding UC investments aims to discourage socially and ethically irresponsible investments throughout the UC system. It passed with nearly unanimous support, as only Senator Montana MacLachlan chose to abstain from the vote.

Regarding the resolution, student sponsor of the legislation Guy Singer said the bill provided adequate leeway for the university to implement its demands without undue burden.

“We’re trying to give the UC Regents … and the treasury a lot of space with this,” Singer said. “Because it’s a big transition, we are giving them five years.”

According to Singer, the goal is to get similar legislation passed at all UC campuses during the summer.

Later, discussion on the bill to update A.S. election code began when Senator Ansel Lundberg read a letter aloud in support of the bill, which demands that a new single transferable vote (STV) system be implemented before the next A.S. election. The system would use preferential voting in which students would rank candidates according to favorability and would roll over votes of candidates that received less first-choice votes.

Lundberg said the current election system led to an unfair domination by a single party that does not accurately represent students.

“The fact that a single party has come to dominate the representation of the entire student body represents a failure on the part of UCSB’s Associated Students,” Lundberg said.

Lundberg said the large numbers of voters that did not support the Open People’s Party were essentially disenfranchised by the current system. Lundberg said this exclusion is even more prominent after “two straight years of thousands of votes cast for DP candidates [led] to zero seats in the Senate.”

MacLachlan said the STV system has a set of its own concerns, particularly in how it encourages for a competition in popularity between candidates and marginalizes political party influence.

“I know that one issue that has been talked about is that if people ran more individually then it would turn into a popularity contest,” MacLachlan said. “What’s the counterargument to that?”

In response, Lundberg said the new electoral system would not compromise the ability of parties to impact elections.

“I would say that it still allows parties to thrive and in no way undermines parties … We’re not trying to ban parties,” Lundberg said.

Senator Derek Wakefield said the outgoing Senate is currently in an ideal position to pass legislation affecting the electoral system, as they are less likely to be hindered by political affiliations.

“We are going to be leaving next week, so that puts us in a really good position to change toward a system such as this because essentially elections and winning is not as much in our minds,” Wakefield said.

Wakefield also said the bill to change the A.S. elections process represents a significant, influential and final piece of legislation for this year’s Senate.

“As our last act of Senate, we can change how we are represented,” Wakefield said.

Following discussion on the bill to update the A.S. elections code, a bill to update student lobby legal code was tabled after various senators expressed opposition to it.

Senator John Soriano said he felt concerned that the bill violated the lobby’s autonomy.

“It’s not fair for the board to be told what to do before they’ve even been elected,” Soriano said.

Senator Lupe Zelada said the independence of the student lobby was being attacked. According to Zelada, the A.S. President backtracked on a previous agreement.

“I do have a problem with somebody attacking our autonomy in our election process, especially when Jonathan Abboud gave us his word that he was not going change that or touch that,” Zelada said. “He completely just backed out on his word, and I don’t appreciate that.”

Other items covered during the meeting included a planned online marketplace for UCSB students to trade and sell textbooks called GauchoBooks, upcoming Human Rights Board elections and changes in and the transition between outgoing and incoming senators.

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One Response to A.S. Senate Debates Election Code Update and University Investments

  1. Montana MacLachlan

    May 29, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Hi David,

    I was hoping you could update the information in this article to reflect the most accuracy. I actually did not vote to abstain, I was not in the room the time the vote was taken, therefore I believe my vote was automatically turned in to an abstain. I would appreciate the correct update. Thank you!

    Montana MacLachlan