The Associated Students Legislative Council swore into office newly appointed Executive Vice President of Statewide Affairs Bill Shiebler last night and approved a resolution opposing the U.S. government’s use of warrantless wiretaps on its citizens.
Shiebler was appointed to the executive position after his predecessor Felicia Cruz resigned last week. The council’s Opposition to Warrantless Domestic Spying and Surveillance Resolution urges the U.S. administration to preserve citizens’ privacy rights. The council also made several amendments to this year’s spring election codes.
After the council swore him in, Shiebler said he would continue Cruz’s legacy.
“I’m not trying to shift any of the goals we had before,” Shiebler said. “I think we’ve been doing good work all year and I plan to continue that. We’re going to continue focusing on making the [University of California] affordable for all students and making financial aid more accessible.”
Shiebler said he would also include a few new goals into his office’s agenda, such as registering more students this year for the gubernatorial and national primary elections in June. He also said he would collect more input from the student body.
“I want to have a ballot initiative to see if students want to vote for a referendum [to give more money] to student lobby organizations such as [the University of California Students Association],” Shiebler said.
The council later approved a resolution to oppose President George W. Bush’s use of wiretapping devices without a judge’s approval. The resolution states that Bush authorized over 30 counts of illegal privacy invasions against U.S. citizens since Sept. 11, 2001 through a loose interpretation of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The PATRIOT Act, passed by Congress Oct. 24, 2001, amends federal criminal code to allow the interception of wire, oral and electronic communications of persons suspected of computer fraud or terrorism.
The Leg Council resolution alleges that Bush’s interpretation of the PATRIOT Act violates the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. The Fourth Amendment protects a citizen’s right to privacy from unreasonable searches and seizures, while FISA authorizes warrantless wiretaps only during emergency situations or within 15 days following a declaration of war.
Off-Campus Rep. and author of the resolution Raymond Meza said he believes Bush is violating the Bill of Rights.
“The most upsetting thing about this is [Bush’s] complete contempt of Congress,” Meza said. “The process has been very misleading and I think that needs to change.”
However, Off-Campus Rep. Eva Kilamyan said she thinks the resolution is impractical.
“I don’t think it’s the council’s role to delve into national issues,” Kilamyan said. “Our job is to focus on local affairs and issues that directly affect students.”
In response, Off-Campus Rep. Joel Rodriguez-Flores said he thought the issue was well within the council’s jurisdiction.
“I think this is pertinent to student groups,” Rodriguez-Flores said. “In the past, student groups have been spied on before [by government agents], such as in the Civil Rights era.”
The resolution passed with 11 members in favor, three against and one abstention.
The council also approved several amendments to this year’s spring elections ballot. Among the amendments was a provision banning Leg Council candidates who would miss more than one quarter of their elected term, for reasons such as studying abroad. Another amendment now allows transfer students who have taken at least 24 units at UCSB to run for an executive office. In previous election years, transfer students were required to have taken at least 60 units to run for office.