At the final Associated Students Senate meeting for the 2012-2013, all five of this year’s executive officers delivered their final reports and reflections regarding their time in office and the Senate swore in the new senators and executive officers for the 2013-2014 year.
The executive reports — delivered by President Sophia Armen, Internal Vice President Mayra Segovia, External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Nadim Houssain, External Vice President of Local Affairs Rhandy Siordia and Student Advocate General Yoel Haile — elicited varying reactions from senators and audience members due to their sometimes emotional and controversial nature.
Later in the meeting, the Senate welcomed the new A.S. Senate members and executive officers for next year. Both the new Senate and new executive board consist largely of Open People’s Party candidates, as all executives for the 2013-2014 school year are former O.P.P. candidates. Jonathan Abboud was sworn into the position of President, while Kyley Scarlet was sworn in as Internal Vice President and Alex Moore was sworn in as External Vice President of Local Affairs. Alex Choate officially took the seat of External Vice President of Statewide Affairs and Kristian Whittaker was sworn in as Student Advocate General.
In regards to executive reports, Haile spoke first and named specific entities and individual whom he said he was targeted and attacked by — including Rabbi Evan Goodman, President-elect Jonathan Abboud, Off-Campus Senator Alessandra Cianni and the Daily Nexus, amongst others.
According to Haile, many of the allegations levied against him were a result of racial prejudice, particularly ones surrounding divestment meetings, in which he and other executives voiced their opinions. The Student Advocate General said he was accused by Rabbi Goodman of anti-Semitism, who Haile said ignored the similar opinions voiced by other speakers.
“Given that the content of my speech was quite similar to at least 100 people who spoke during public forum, it’s interesting that the Rabbi chose to come after me and nobody else, at least to the extent that he did,” Haile said. “I believe race was a big factor in his treatment of me … I am an African man, a black man. I say that because the Rabbi knows nothing about me, aside from what I look like and what I said during public forum and my Exec report.”
Haile also mentioned a Daily Nexus endorsement article for this year’s A.S. elections, which was published on April 22 and “called to question his ability to act as the nonpartisan resource that the OSA is expected to be.”
“Given your history of publishing anti-Black Op-eds and other commentaries, I am not surprised,” Haile said. “I did not know racism and white supremacy were partisan issues for me to stay out of.”
Later in the report, Haile highlighted “remarkable feats” met by the SAG Office during his term, describing his office as a “strong and beautiful team” that has counseled and assisted students through academic troubles, legal issues and housing issues, amongst other matters.
“We helped and counseled hundreds of students regarding many issues they were struggling with ranging from being kicked out of school, cancellation of housing contracts, family problems, targeted treatment by police and much more,” Haile said.
He also applauded the office’s participation in on-campus organizational efforts and its collaboration with the Black Student Union.
Following Haile’s report was EVPSA Houssain’s speech, which was supportive of Haile’s statements and also said this school year included a number of positive efforts and changes.
In his address, Houssain mentioned the success of passing Proposition 30, the record number of students registered to vote and a campaign addressing the corruption surrounding the prison industrial complex in California as some of the most successful accomplishments of his term.
EVPLA Siordia spoke after Houssain and said there were over 30 initiatives launched through the EVPLA office this year. Siordia said his experience was rewarding, as it also helped him shape his sense of self.
“How can I take one of the most cherished experiences of my life and describe it with words?” Siordia asked. “I truly feel like I’m losing the central and primary part of my identity. But even though this part of my life will no longer exist, I will still carry all of the incredible lessons that I’ve learned with me.”
IVP Segovia spoke next, as she said her time in office allowed her to realize that she could not let others define her own personal identity.
“You are your own worst enemy — the only person who knows you better than any one else ever will,” Segovia said. “You have the freedom to find yourself, think for yourself, and stay true to who you think you are.”
Finally, President Armen delivered her executive report, also noting her negative experiences in A.S. She said she was unfairly attacked throughout her time at UCSB, and she urged listeners to treat each other with respect.
“One of the most radical things that people can do is actually to have love in everything that they do,” Armen said. “I have, in the face of all of this, still shown love and respect and waved and smiled at every person that I met here, you know, and it’s been difficult. But, I have to say it’s all been working.”
Armen said she did not believe political parties dominated A.S. but rather, that unhealthy power dynamics have weakened the organization.
“While the party politics seem like the overrun A.S. — no,” Armen said. “We have power issues in this place that need to be addressed. We have one party that has won for six years 90 percent of the seats…If you want to look at things nationally, and you were to compare the systems, you would say there’s a problem, too.”
Armen concluded her report with a spoken word piece that she wrote during her campaign for election last year. The piece focused on justice and humanity.
“I don’t want no movement, if there ain’t no humanity,” Armen said.
PHOTO BY WILLIAM ZHOU / DAILY NEXUS
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of May 23rd’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.