Associated Students Senate voted to overturn a presidential veto of last week’s revisions to the elections code and unanimously approved a resolution supporting divestment from fossil fuel companies during Wednesday’s 12-hour meeting.
The elections code, which has been a subject of lengthy and contentious debate for the past three Senate meetings, will now go into effect with revisions proposed by the Elections Committee and recommended by the Constitution and By-Law committee. The revisions, which were initially vetoed by A.S. President Sophia Armen, will allow the party recruitment period to begin week seven of Winter Quarter.
Elections Committee spent the last six months drafting their changes to the code and initially proposed the bill to Senate on January 31. The bill was then revised to incorporate senators’ feedback and reintroduced last week.
Armen said the reasoning behind her veto had to do with issues with both the content of the bill and the process by which the bill was created. She argued that senators did not take the best interests of the students into account when passing the bill, instead catering to the interests of their parties.
“I am exercising my right to veto because there is an inherent conflict of interest by the members who worked actively to create the final version of the code,” Armen said in a statement. “Presently, a process which should be and has historically been limited to Spring Quarter for the duration is being maneuvered to consume more of the year…as a benefit not to the student body but to ever-powerful political parties.”
Off-Campus Senator Kyley Scarlet, chair of the Constitution and By-Law Committee, challenged Armen’s claim that the revisions represent a lack of accountability to students.
“I do not know how I could have been any more transparent or accessible throughout this process,” Scarlet said. “I feel that my integrity was attacked during the veto…there was a lot of discussion [during the CBL meeting] focused around what benefits the students.”
Off-Campus Senator Taryn Sanders said she was taking student awareness into consideration when she voted in favor of the revisions.
“I didn’t even really know what A.S. was before becoming a senator,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to see students miss out on an opportunity that they could be really good at because they didn’t hear about it soon enough.”
Initially, the Senate did not succeed in attaining the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override the veto, but after realizing that maintaining the veto would then keep the elections code identical to last year’s — thereby discounting six months of Elections Committee work — senators voted a second time and the motion passed.
Another resolution that has been debated for the past few weeks also passed last night, officially declaring A.S.’s support for the campaign to divest from fossil fuel companies. Members of the Environmental Affairs Board along with several unaffiliated students came to public forum to speak in favor of the resolution.
The main concern voiced by senators upon the resolution’s proposal was whether divesting would financially impact students. EAB members, including graduate student advisor to the board Quentin Gee, explained the financial mechanics of divesting and insisted that divestment support would not financially hinder the student body.
“Tuition is not affected by the endowment. Most of the endowment comes in the form of restricted gifts…towards specific programs,” Gee said. “On top of that…let’s say that we did divest, there’s no indication that there would actually be a negative impact on returns.”