This year, Associated Students Legislative Council passed approximately 35 resolutions and 25 bills, including a bill to create the Commission On Disability Access (CODA) and a controversial election code.
One of A.S.’s biggest successes this year was the development of CODA. CODA was created with a unanimous vote and has been widely praised. CODA has been busy in its first year, holding the school’s first conference on disabilities, called “Accessing our Education.” According to Bill Flores, the group’s co-founder, CODA has also been working with the UCen Governance Board in order to get automatic doors for easier access.
The majority of bills passed by Leg Council were changes to A.S.’s internal rules. Most of these alterations were made to correct technicalities and eliminate redundancies.
Leg Council also passed close to 15 position papers. Resolutions this year covered a broad range of topics including parking on campus, party registration and exploitation in Tibet.
Faculty and administration have differed with students on issues such as the Broida Expressway. Despite overwhelming student support, including two separate resolutions by Leg Council, the Design Review Committee tabled the issue until 2002.
There was some debate this year over the relevance of position papers dealing with global issues over which Leg Council has little, if any, control. However, most council members agree that if their legislation impacts even one student, they have done their job.
Off-Campus Rep Vanessa Blau said there are a lot of misconceptions about the job of Leg Council and A.S. in general.
“Our job is to represent our constituents,” Blau said. “If a student brings an issue to the table asking us to take a position on it, it automatically becomes relevant. It’s not like the 24 of us sit around and think of these things all by ourselves.”
In contrast to the unanimous support of CODA, the new E-Code has been much more controversial. Although party affiliations have existed for a long time, the difference this year is that they are on the ballot.
Rep-at-Large Elizabeth Van Dyke said party affiliations have caused nothing but problems within A.S.
“There have been nasty rumors back and forth, e-mails, people being cornered using really shady tactics that aren’t needed,” Van Dyke said. “It’s just student government. It’s not like people are running for president [of the United States].”
Blau said the E-Code was written with good intentions.
“Any time you make sides, there are going to be divisions,” she said. “Party affiliations can help bring people in that would not necessarily get involved otherwise. I think affiliations are good to try for a year. People who wrote the E-Code did it to help students. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll be the first to vote against it. College is a learning experience, and for me, A.S. is a big part of that experience.”
Many leggies cited political division as the main reason for inefficiency within Leg Council this year, especially the length of the meetings, which averaged just over three hours. The longest meeting this year lasted six hours and nine minutes.
Rep-at-Large Shaina Walter said political differences were a big problem this year, especially when compared to the last three Leg Councils.
“This is the first time in three years that I’ve seen such intense fragmentation and voting blocks,” Walter said. “Party lines have divided the board a lot and prevented a lot from getting done.”
While Blau agreed that party lines have been at the center of conflicts, she said the overall result has been more ideas.
“I think we have a good dynamic overall this year,” she said. “We have people from all different points of view. It seems like it would hurt us, but it can really help us. I think we’ve done a good job this year.”