The decision to publish an editorial is not one the Daily Nexus editorial board takes lightly.

The Nexus itself is not perfect, nor do we claim to be. We make mistakes and we own up to them. We issue corrections when needed and we are open, time and time again, as to how our reporting process works.

The Nexus has a duty to the student body to keep them informed of relevant issues in their community. We also do our best as student journalists to hold elected officials accountable.

We feel the need to write this editorial because the Associated Students (A.S.) 69th Senate is not doing that for themselves.

The Senate has a duty to the student body to represent students’ issues, one they have not maintained since taking office.

In the Nexus’ point of view – as individuals who extensively cover Senate’s resolutions, meetings and more – the 69th Senate consistently fails to represent our student body and is, in no way, accountable to the people they were elected to serve.

A.S. Senate is a group of 24 students who decide how millions of dollars of our student fees are spent. The senators are paid $350 a quarter in honorarium and are required to fulfill specific duties, such as holding office hours.

However, A.S. Senate as a whole lacks transparency. Below are a few examples:

  • Senate did not have a public list of their office hours until the Nexus requested it during Week 6. The 2018-2019 A.S. Legal Code mandates this list be “scheduled and publicly posted by the end of the third (3rd) week of each quarter.”
  • They use Facebook to communicate Senate-related announcements to their constituents, despite the fact that you need to have a Facebook account and be Facebook friends with them to see anything remotely related to their positions.
  • They did not establish a Senate bill database until after the Nexus created one last year in order to make every resolution easily accessible to the senators’ constituents.
  • They demanded The Bottom Line (TBL) turn off a livestream at the end of a public Senate meeting, which TBL – and the Nexus – had every right to record.
  • Their website is still not updated with the names and office hours of this year’s senators, even though it is the end of Week 7.

Senators are not holding themselves accountable; instead, they consistently act unprofessionally as elected officials who control millions of dollars in student fees.

We do want to acknowledge the valuable work some senators have been doing. For example, Senator Zion Solomon has worked to compile finance reports that detail the amount of money allocated to organizations during Finance and Business Committee meetings.

To our knowledge, the finance reports are only posted on Facebook, but Senator Solomon’s efforts show a commitment to transparency.

Senators do good things. We’re not saying they don’t. However, many of them have not been doing the jobs they have been elected to do.

Even the leader of Senate – Internal Vice President (IVP) Steven Ho, whose pay amounts to $3,000 a quarter – fails to take his job seriously.

His job is to hold his senators accountable, to keep some semblance of decorum during Senate meetings and to ensure senators follow Legal Code.

Despite this, Ho fails to show professionalism, even during Senate meetings. Ho, as the IVP, sets the tone for how senators should conduct themselves during meetings.

During Wednesday’s Senate meeting, Ho retweeted a tweet from Senate minute-taker Isabella Liu, which stated “someone get me out of this meeting please.” Ho replied to the tweet at 7:26 p.m. with “someone save us please.”

Later during that same meeting, Ho tweeted “this meeting has been going on in circles, I wish I could get a proxy.”

Both Twitter accounts are public.

What senators – and Ho – seem to forget is that representing our student body is a privilege, one that they have been given by the students.

During Wednesday’s Senate meeting, a UCSB alumnus stood up at public forum, identifying themselves as a “concerned Gaucho.”

“I’m here to tell you one simple sentence, and I’m not taking any questions, but I recently realized that the Daily Nexus is really good for toilet paper and I want to recommend it to all of you. It’s really good to wipe your ass with,” the individual said.

“It’s really just trash, garbage newspaper so please use it to wipe your butthole with whenever you’re taking a shit, that’s my recommendation.”

His words are what spurred this editorial, but they are not the focus of it.

What senators – and Ho – seem to forget is that representing our student body is a privilege, one that they have been given by the students.

Instead, we would like to call attention to the way the senators and proxies, as well as Ho, responded to this individual.

In response to this individual’s words, senators and proxies laughed and clapped their hands over their mouths. One even bowed toward the podium as the individual walked away.

Ho could be seen recording the individual and laughing. The video was posted on Ho’s Snapchat story with the caption “I have no words 4 dis.”

The comments from “concerned Gaucho” were not said in order to provide constructive dialogue or a call to action. Rather, they were blatantly inflammatory and used to reap attention.

A few members of A.S. spoke with the Nexus following these remarks, condemning the sentiments. Yet no one publicly addressed the individual’s comments for the rest of the meeting.

Senators are not required to defend the Nexus, but there are standards they must adhere to.

According to their own 2018-2019 A.S. Legal Code, members of A.S. must “treat each other and those in the community with behavior that fosters a safe, inclusive environment for everyone. This behavior includes but is not limited to: professionalism, compassion, courtesy, civility, and respect.”

We would have hoped senators would have acted in accordance to their Legal Code, as their response to “concerned Gaucho”’s remarks was not professional, compassionate, courteous, civil or respectful.

Instead, our paid, elected officials laughed at the hateful comments.

They did not keep composure – they joined in on the joke.

This is a student government, and we are a student newspaper. To the world outside our university, it is easy to dismiss our student government’s actions as an inconsequential side effect of decisions made by 18 to 22-year-olds.

However, these people are our future “real-world” leaders. From what we have observed so far, there is a dangerous precedent in motion.

Maybe we’re asking for too much. But we certainly hope that’s not the case.