The Associated Students Legislative Council debated a number of issues ranging from hate crimes to environmental racism at their first meeting of the year yesterday.

While the majority of bills subject to the council’s scrutiny were tabled until next week’s meeting, council members discussed controversial wording and definitions within two pieces of legislation focusing on hate crimes in Isla Vista and restructuring the Environmental Affairs Board.

Authored by On-Campus Representative Joel Mandujano, the hate crimes resolution was created last year in response to a number of violent hate crimes committed in the community during the 2008-09 school year.

“Last year there were about three hate crimes,” Mandujano said.  “This is really important to me.”

University-Owned Housing Representative Sammy Maramba-Ferrell then suggested including the A.S. Queer Commission and other existing campus organizations in the debate and later in the meeting brought up the idea of sharpening the current definition A.S. has for hate crimes.

“The last time we tried to pass this bill, people didn’t know what a hate crime was,” Maramba-Ferrell said.  “I think we should take a stand as to what we think hate crime means.”

The next piece of legislation concerned EAB and spurred controversy due to the board’s request to add environmental justice and racism to its key focuses.

Off-Campus Representative Adam Goldman questioned the role of the subject of racism for EAB. Goldman was met with quick response by several council members, including External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Celina Ayala who found an online definition from her cellular phone and read aloud to the council.

“‘Environmental racism refers to intentional or unintentional racial discrimination in the enforcement of environmental rules and regulations, the intentional or unintentional targeting of minorities for the citing of polluting industries. … Environmental justice is the movement to reverse environmental racism,'” Ayala said.  “And I think that last part is really important.”

Meanwhile, although many meetings last year stretched late into the night, yesterday’s meeting moved slightly more swiftly due to limits in public forum and reports from executive officers.

“This is one of the things I thought of for efficiency purposes,” Internal Vice President Chris Wendle said.  “The clock was an investment so that it can be used for Legislative Council, Finance Board and hopefully during election debates.  It’s so that it can benefit the students of UCSB for years to come.”