The Associated Students (A.S.) Senate appointed two new on-campus senators, first-year students Reilly Hobson and Batsheva Labowe-Stoll, Wednesday night in the Flying A Room of the UCen.
Several senators alleged at the meeting that A.S. violated the Legal Code in the process of choosing the candidates. Hobson and Labowe-Stolle will fill two open on-campus positions, one of which was left vacant by second-year art history major Lacy Wright, who resigned in Fall Quarter.
Off-campus senator Stevan Abdalmalik, a third-year political science major, said A.S. Internal Vice President (IVP) Kimia Hashemian, a fourth-year sociology major, violated the policy of IVP neutrality because she voted for the selection of the senators.
“Just like the IVP doesn’t vote in senate, they should not vote in that committee,” Abdalmalik said. “The IVP … should have not voted in that committee, and the vote was cast.”
Abdalmalik said selection committee leadership supported specific candidates.
“It seems to me, through the committee’s term, there have been certain biases towards certain candidates by the leadership of the committee, because the violations are factually based and backed by legal code,” Abdalmalik said.
Abdalmalik also said the committee leaders should not have had access to the names of candidates.
“The chair and the vice chair were given special privileges of information in knowing the names of the candidates,” Abdalmalik said. “Then they used the names of the candidates, which were barred from all other senate committee members, in order to base their votes.”
On-campus Senator Nawar Nemeh, a second-year economics and political science double-major, said the search committee failed to submit a conflict of interest form during the selection process.
Nemeh referred to Policy 15 of the Legal Code, which says, in part, “all voting members are personally charged with the responsibility of bringing any personal interests said member(s) may have in the outcome(s) of said vote(s).”
Nemeh said the committee members did not fill out the conflict of interest forms, which outline whether members know any of the candidates, have personal relationships with them, are in any organization with them and if members “would benefit in any way from [the senators] being appointed.”
“Our committee didn’t fill out this form even though the Legal Code clearly says that we have to fill out this form if we are to appoint a new member,” Nemeh said.
On-campus senator and second-year political science major Mercedes Rodriguez said she believes there were no transparency issues in the appointment of the two new senators.
“If there was a lack of transparency, I would blame [senators] for not going because the meetings were open,” Rodriguez said. “[Senator Nikki Elyasi] was pretty transparent throughout the senate meetings about what we did. I don’t think there was anything wrong with how the process went.”
The two senators were appointed in a hand vote of 13 for and five against. Four members abstained from the vote. Shortly after the vote, Nemeh and Abdamalik left the meeting early, seemingly in a statement of disapproval.
Also at the meeting, Off-campus Senator Jerel Constantino, a third-year history of public policy and political science double-major, revealed the “2016 A.S. Referenda Reform” website. The purpose of the reform and website are to increase transparency with A.S. for voters, according to Constantino.
“My main point is I want the students to be more informed about their fees,” Constantino said.
To learn more, visit the website at asfb.as.ucsb.edu/16reform/.