Wednesday night’s meeting of Associated Students Leg Council lasted late into the night and ended with the tabling of the majority of bills brought before the group.
Of the bills tabled, one authored by Rep-at-Large Katie Joaquin and members of the Black Student Union (BSU) called on the Daily Nexus to be held accountable for “fair and non-discriminatory reporting.”
The bill states, “The Nexus’ coverage of Riccardo King Jr. violated the responsibility of unbiased and non-discriminatory journalism by twice covering his alleged crimes on the front page of the Nexus each with a large facial photography.”
Some students at the meeting spoke in favor of the bill during public forum. Cordaun Dudley, BSU president and a student sponsor of the bill, said photographs of King re-enforced racial stereotypes.
King was arrested on campus Feb. 26 after allegedly stealing $400 in textbooks from the UCSB bookstore and leading asset protection employees on a brief foot chase. After receiving an anonymous tip, UC police arrested King again in Isla Vista April 8 in connection with an on-campus sexual assault that occurred on April 7.
King’s preliminary hearing in Santa Barbara Superior Court is scheduled for May 17.
“We thought [the photograph and article] is re-enforcing the stereotype of black men being rapists,” Dudley said.
Torrance Thurman, the other student sponsor of the bill, said the newspaper has a responsibility to portray news fairly.
“We’re not for a censored Nexus, we reject that,” Thurman said. “But we do want to promote a fair Nexus. The Nexus staff is very thorough, but we want to interject at certain key points so that the student of color community, the queer or gender community isn’t offended.”
Sam Mlyniec, chair of the UCSB chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, defended the Nexus’ publication of the King photos.
“There is no greater responsibility than supporting freedom of speech, especially in the University of California,” Mlyniec said. “The issue is not whether or not we want to stop bias or discriminatory reporting, but whether or not we want to stop freedom of the press.”
Leg Council opted to table the bill until next week’s session, in lieu of a recently scheduled meeting between BSU and Nexus representatives.
Moving on to monetary matters, the council re-opened discussion of next year’s budget proposal by A.S. President Miguel Lopez. Since Leg Council could not vote on the budget last week because it did not meet quorum, it passed by default. Under A.S. by-laws, Leg Council must approve next year’s budget by the sixth week of Spring Quarter, otherwise it passes by default.
Some council members, including President-elect Cervin Morris, said they did not have adequate time to voice concerns about the budget before its passage.
“Why are we opposed to people making changes in their own budget?” Off-Campus Rep. Jared Renfro said. “It makes no sense to me.”
Further discussion of the budget was tabled until next week so members could have more time to look over it.
The council also tabled a different bill by Joaquin that would change the day that next year’s Leg Council will meet, moving it from Wednesday to Thursday. Rep-at-Large Felicia Cruz’s resolution to amend A.S. election by-laws was also tabled. The bill would have increased the number of campaign signs allowed on each grass plot, from two signs per plot to five signs per plot. In addition, a bill to increase the amount of money that students can take out in loans from A.S., from $100 to $200, was also tabled.
Leg Council did pass two resolutions, one concerning clothing purchased by A.S and the other regarding road safety at West Campus.
External Vice President for Local Affairs Logan Green proposed a bill that would require all A.S. committees, boards and A.S.-funded groups to buy only T-shirts that are made with organic cotton and not produced in sweatshops.
Renfro said he opposed the bill as a representative of Program Board. He said that while purchasing clothing from producers who do not engage in the use of sweatshops was acceptable, the cost of buying organic cotton merchandise was too high.
Even with Renfro’s opposition, the board approved Green’s resolution.
“I was impressed; they came around to see the merits of the bill,” Green said. “I appreciated the criticism.”
The council also approved a resolution proposed by Off-Campus Rep. Lee Ryan that sought to provide university sponsored maintenance of the West Campus Bluffs path.
“I think the money’s there, especially when they realize it’s a safety issue,” Ryan said.