The Associated Students Legislative Council held a closed meeting for the second week in a row last night, following claims of major property damage to a villa during a student government retreat.
Allegations emerged this week regarding an A.S. retreat at Villa Antonio in Los Osos, Calif. the weekend of Jan. 9. According to Lance Heck of Morrocco Method International, the company that owns the villa, the students trashed the property and no chaperone was present as the rental contract had stated. At last night’s A.S. council meeting members ousted the public to discuss what they deemed “an emergency situation.” Council members refused to comment further, later passing a resolution requesting that university administrators and the campus community “temporarily withhold information” related to the matter. A copy of this legislation can be viewed at www.dailynexus.com.
Heck said that the university contacted him yesterday regarding the situation.
“The university attorneys basically sent us an e-mail this morning telling us not to release any more documents,” Heck said.
At the council meeting, A.S. members quickly moved into a closed session following the commencement of their regularly held 5 p.m. weekly meeting in the UCen State Street Room.
A spontaneous motion, such as an impromptu request for a closed meeting, according to the A.S. Legal Code, can only be considered if it meets one of the following criteria: an emergency situation falling within 10 days of the meeting or if the issue arose after the agenda deadline. A written statement must be given to the internal vice president, and closed meetings “shall be held only upon a two-thirds vote.”
Outside the closed meeting, A.S. Student Advocate General Kelsey Fisher said the council’s session did not violate the terms required under A.S. policies and procedures.
“We’re choosing not to make any of that public,” Fisher said. “All the criteria have been met.”
After the meeting reopened, A.S. Internal Vice President Chris Wendle said the matter was considered an “emergency situation.” He said the council would make no further comment.
UC A.S. legislative bodies are the only California higher public education student governments not held to open meetings laws other than what is stipulated in their by-laws.
As details emerge about A.S.’s recent actions, responses on campus have varied from general concern for UCSB’s reputation to calls for A.S. representatives to resign.
While Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young said he had received the list of alleged damages from the company, the cost was about $970 — not the thousands previously alleged by Heck.
“It wasn’t all that exciting, to be honest,” Young said. “There are allegations of misconduct and drinking, and they have pictures of alcohol and bottles, none of which approximated what the guy said in the article.”
Young said although A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez approached him immediately after he received the e-mail and said she would examine the situation, no formal discussions have been held regarding potential consequences for those accused of improper conduct.
“My understanding, though — and this is the way it has been in the past — is that we give [the organization] the opportunity to determine what happened, then render a judgment and make recommendations about what we are going to do about it,” Young said. “Marisela Marquez and [A.S. President] Charlie Arreola said there’s going to be a review. I’m anticipating that A.S. leadership will tell me what happened in a formal way.”
The incident, Young said, raises serious concerns about what type of behavior is condoned by the campus community.
“I think the broader issue here is the culture of the campus, that somehow certain kinds of behavior are acceptable and okay,” he said.
Yesterday, several UCSB students formed a Facebook group, “Hold Associated Students accountable for their actions!!!”, calling for the resignation of A.S. representatives.
“People are struggling to deal with the tuition hike and they’re using student funds,” Bipandeep Ahdi, the group’s creator and a fourth-year statistical science and black studies major, said. “I definitely think that transparency is key. … How can you do that with student fees? We just got a fee hike in the middle of the quarter.”
Ahdi said the group, which had 551 members as of press time, is organizing a protest against A.S.
As it stands, according to Arreola, the organization is searching for a resolution.
“As of now, what Legislative Council is going to be doing is working on solutions,” Arreola said. “That’s essentially all that’s going to be happening.”
— Elliott Rosenfeld, Maane Khatchatourian and Matt Matejcek contributed to this report.