Wednesday night’s Associated Students Senate meeting, the first to be held by the newly elected senate for the 2014-2015 academic school year, focused on the mass shooting that occurred last Friday night in Isla Vista.
A.S. executive officers gave reports on efforts being made to establish memorials and help students heal, as well as failures in the alert system responsible for warning students. The meeting began with a seven-minute moment of silence held in honor of the shooting victims.
Director for Community Affairs Aaron Jones reported on the successful efforts coordinated by A.S. executive officers to construct a board for students and community members to share thoughts and feelings in light of recent events. Jones said the board has received non-stop participation, particularly after media coverage in Isla Vista has subsided.
“It’s a really, really beautiful thing,” Jones said. “We spent all day yesterday and today out there. It’s been a constant flow of students [and] community leaders … who are just coming forth, looking at it, participating, adding thoughts.”
Third-year economics and accounting major and Internal Vice President Angela Lau said she has been working on several events to help students heal from the recent tragedy.
“We’ve been working nonstop from Saturday on the candlelight vigil, the memorial and other projects of healing on our campus,” Lau said.
External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Melvin Singh discussed some of the problems that occurred with the UCSB emergency email message system on the Friday night of the shootings. Singh said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown justified the delayed warnings students received that evening as an attempt to maintain peace.
“He tried to make an excuse, and said something along the lines of ‘There was a safety concern, we didn’t want people to panic,’” Singh said. “To me, speaking personally, this kind of concerns me because this alert system is made for us to be notified for something like this going on.”
Singh, a third-year political science and film and media double major, said students frequently receive alerts and warnings about relatively unimportant happenings.
“We get police alerts all the time for smaller stuff, but we don’t get it when something like this happens,” Singh said.
Singh also said students should make a concerted effort to be aware of issues related to gun legislation.
“With everything that’s been happening, just keep an eye on what’s going on with gun law legislations,” Singh said. “I know that’s been really big, especially [Tuesday] with the memorial. Today, Das Williams proposed his legislation and it was on CNN, so keep an eye on it. It’s something that’s relevant to our community.”
Several different A.S. executive officers made efforts to reach out to senators to provide emotional support. A.S. President Ali Guthy, a third-year sociology and psychology double major, said she appreciated community efforts over the last week and would be available as a resource to senators and students.
“I know it’s been a really rough week, and the amount of support we’ve been giving each other as a community has really been inspiring,” Guthy said. “I love you all. If you need anything I’m here as a resource.”
Senators then passed a resolution to formally request that Chancellor Henry T. Yang ask First Lady Michelle Obama to appear at UCSB and speak on the recent tragedy. Senator Jimmy Villarreal, fourth-year communication major, said the first lady could provide support to the Isla Vista community during a difficult time.
“In light of the most recent events, we need an inspirational speaker,” Villarreal said. “She will not be coming as a political figure, but as first lady of the United States. I like to think that’s like the mom of America. That’s what we need.”
Later in the evening, fifth-year biological anthropology major Josh Plotke spoke at public forum to condemn newly appointed External Vice President of Local Affairs Beatrice Contreras for lying to the Daily Nexus, citing documented contradictory statements. He said Contreras, a third-year sociology and Asian-American studies double major, made incorrect statements regarding the legality of a sales tax and subsequently lied about making those statements.
“Not only is it as bad as they said, not only did they quote her correctly, but it’s worse than they actually quoted her,” Plotke said. “I want you guys to just think before you take what she says as the truth. Just remember that she lied to the Nexus, she lied to me.”
On former Internal Vice President Kyley Scarlet’s request, Lau asked Plotke to leave for the remaining duration of the meeting, to which Plotke obliged.
Other topics discussed included debate over Senate approval of staff positions for A.S. executives, planned study jams this evening at the A.S. Annex that will provide free food for students, a bill to create a commemorative memorial plaque for the victims of the shooting and the unanimous passage of a resolution to encourage more socially responsible investments by the UC, which had previously been passed unanimously by the outgoing Senate.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.