In what turned out to be a six-hour long meeting, Associated Students Legislative Council passed nine bills and approved a new constitution to be placed on the spring ballot.
While they quickly passed the nine bills, which included three lock-in fee increase initiatives for the spring ballot, the Leggies spent a significant amount of time deliberating on an amendment for the new A.S. Constitution concerning the A.S. Office of the Student Advocate (OSA).
Neil Dipaola, advocate general for OSA, delivered a formal presentation to the council about his group and requested that the council amend the constitution to make the advocate general an elected position. He handed the council a stack of petition papers with over 2,000 student signatures in support of such an amendment.
“We find out how to best serve student interest and we act as a watchdog for them,” Dipaola said.
Leg Council members denied Dipaola’s request and passed the constitution without amendments, with 13 in favor and nine opposed. However, Dipaola may now use the petition to place the amendment on the spring ballot, as he secured more than the 1,955 signatures necessary. To pass, the amendment needs approval from two-thirds of voters.
“We maintain non-partisanship, and all we can hope is [that] democracy makes things right in the world,” Dipaola said. “We’ve set this up to avoid impropriety.”
At the meeting, council members including Rep-at-Large Christina Leets opposed the amendment, arguing that running an election campaign for the advocate general would distract the office from aiding students.
“I’m afraid your office may suffer if you run elections and may put the focus on campaigning, instead of your purpose,” Leets said, addressing Dipaola.
However, On-Campus Rep. Sam Marks said it is important for the position of advocate general to have the approval of the students it represents, despite the demands of campaigning.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Marks said of the proposed amendment. “How can we speak for students if we don’t have student support?”
In addition to considering the Student Advocate bill, Leg Council also passed nine other bills, including three items that request specific lock-in fee increases.
The MultiCultural Center, which currently receives a lock-in fee of $1.75 per student per quarter, wants to raise student fees by $3.75 per student per quarter in order to continue planning free events for students and providing a free venue for student groups. A.S. Program Board currently receives $5.50 per student per quarter and wants to raise that fee by $4.50 per student per quarter.
Likewise, the University of California Student Association, which currently receives $0.35 per student per quarter, wants to increase its lock-in fee by $2.00.