Associated Students Senate voted down a resolution that would have expressed “no confidence” in new UC President Janet Napolitano’s ability to uphold the university’s mission statement, during last night’s 5-hour meeting.
While twelve senators voted to pass “A Resolution in Support of Undocumented Students and Immigrant Communities” and only nine opposed it (with two abstentions), the motion fell short of a necessry two-thirds majority approval. The resolution was first introduced during last week’s meeting and then tabled until yesterday.
The resolutions’ demands for Napolitano included holding mandatory trainings for UCPD on the rights of undocumented students’ and other underrepresented groups, having UC staff training on the issues that undocumented students experience and supporting the Trust Act, which Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law.
Several audience members who spoke at Public Forum had also attended last week’s meeting and reiterated their reasons for supporting the resolution. Anisha Ahuja and Katlen Abu Ata issued a prepared statement on behalf of A.S. Human Rights Board, emphasizing the confusing process by which Napolitano was elected and the threat they believe she poses to members of the undocumented community.
“We, the UC Santa Barbara Human Rights Board, stand in solidarity with communities that have been attacked and further marginalized under the leadership of Napolitano during her term as Secretary of Homeland Security,” Ahuja and Abu Ata stated. “We aim to create a safe space and advocate for all students, regardless of races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientation and classes. We work to pressure the University to uphold these standards and qualities of fair and equal treatment.”
Gloria Campos of UCSB IDEAS said passing the resolution would show solidarity with other UC campuses that have already passed similar resolutions.
“Passing a vote of ‘no confidence’ — it has so much weight in terms of being in solidarity with other Campuses and being able to say UC Santa Barbara will have no confidence with you because of your history,” Campos said. “These concerns are valid. I don’t know how else to convince you all.”
Fourth-year Norma Orozco said the resolution presented a critical opportunity for the senate to take a definitive stand on a pressing issue.
“At UCSB I’ve seen a lot of student politicians, and A.S. is supposed to be a place for everyone. It’s supposed to be a place that creates student leaders. I really want you all to take this idea really to mind, to heart…as a leader,” Orozco said.
Following public forum and administrative tasks, senators debated the resolution themselves. Off-Campus Senator Derek Wakefield said that public forum showed how little opposition there was to the resolution, and that he could not see clear negative consequences to it.
“We don’t have students saying that they oppose this resolution coming to the senate,” Wakefield said. “Voting yes on this would not be negative. No students are going to be suffering if we say yes.”
On the other hand, Off-Campus Senator Jimmy Villarreal said he did not feel the demands outlined in the resolution directly applied to Napolitano’s role as UC President.
“The most important part should be the demands that were made,” Villarreal said. “I don’t feel that the demands actually fall under Napolitano’s job description.”
Senator Amir Khazaieli said he doubted the bill would yield tangible results.
“I don’t like this bill for one main reason, not because of the ‘no confidence’ clause but mainly because it fails to introduce tangible results that will change our campus for the better,” Khazaieli said. “Let’s make some directives and let’s add it to the resolution.”
Other senators took issue with the “aggressive” language of the bill, such as Off-Campus Senator Jake Orens, who felt that Napolitano should be given a chance to act as president before being attacked.
“I think she has a chance and I think the bill can be revised…but I just don’t feel comfortable with how aggressive it is,” Orens said.
Off-Campus Senator Andre Theus said the aggressive tone is actually a point in favor of the bill.
“I don’t think being aggressive is necessarily a bad thing,” Theus said. “I have seen so many things come out of the senate office…because of decisions that were aggressive but that needed to happen…A lot of things aren’t ever going to change in the world if you’re not being aggressive.”
Beatrice Contreras, who authored the resolution, urged the senators to move to a vote and let their vote speak for them. After the vote, Contreras said the decision could set a dangerous precedent for the Senate.
“I feel like from now on, [members of the communities affected by the resolution] are going to be very hesitant about approaching us, they’re going to be very hesitant about asking us anything, hesitant about us representing them,” Contreras said. “We have to earn their trust and their respect back.”