Second-year political science and history of public policy double major Raymond Alonso was appointed Judicial Council Chair at the Associated Students Senate meeting on Wednesday evening.
Alonso has been serving on the Council since last spring, when he was appointed by former Associated Students (A.S.) President Hieu Le and approved by the 68th Senate.
Seats on the Council had been left empty since the end of Spring Quarter 2018, when the only two other members on the Council graduated, leaving the Council unable to meet quorum.
By the end of Fall Quarter 2018, current A.S. President Brooke Kopel had appointed four members to the council after concerns about conflicts of interest plagued her choice for the position of chair, current council member Justin Nilsen.
According to Alonso, the council internally determined that Alonso was the best decision for chair.
Alonso spoke about his plans for the position of chair at Wednesday’s meeting and in an interview with the Nexus, highlighting his interest in “broadening the accessibility of Judicial Council.”
He plans to do so in two ways: by reaching out to various boards, commissions and units (BCUs) on campus and by introducing more empathy in judicial council proceedings.
“When it comes to the judicial process, what often gets left out are the struggles of individuals from various communities, and that allows other people to misinterpret or misunderstand the decisions of other individuals that may have made necessary a judicial council case,” he said in the interview with the Nexus.
“I want to do this in order to really give people who might not be as easily understood the ability to be understood.”
He noted that, while the council is “alright, in terms of a diverse body,” there is always more that can be done to make the judicial process more equitable.
Alonso said he also wants to work with various BCUs to increase their involvement and understanding of A.S. Legal Code, and wants to encourage them to reach out to the council if they have any concerns about legal code violations.
“Almost every body of Associated Students violates legal code, accidentally, or on purpose, but usually accidentally. We want to make ourselves known to other people, like hey, if something is happening in your BCU which violates legal code and you don’t like this, we have legal code for a reason, and that’s something that you can come to us about,” he added.
By gaining a better understanding of A.S. Legal Code, organizations can operate in the most efficient manner, Alonso said, which is his ultimate goal with the Council.
“I’ve gone to a few BCU meetings myself, the bodies are great, and they have these brilliant missions, but because they aren’t super informed on legal code, they get stuck in a lot of… bureaucratic red tape,” he said.
“It just really paralyzes action, and I want people to have the best understanding of legal code because it was designed very specifically to allow A.S. to function, not to prevent it from functioning.”
Speaking to the Senate Wednesday evening, Alonso fielded questions about how he would address conflicts of interest and potential biases that could crop up.
In response, Alonso affirmed that he was committed to transparency, both amongst council members and from himself. Alonso also noted that last spring, when the council encountered a case where he had a conflict of interest, he immediately recused himself from the discussion.
Alonso also said the council has been discussing possible bias trainings that they could undergo in order to make the judicial proceedings as fair and understanding as they can be.
Internally, Alonso plans on revamping the Council’s office space in order for them to be able to hear cases in their office, instead of spending the bulk of their minimal budget on renting out spaces to hear cases.
He also plans to make the process of submitting a petition more clear by creating a Google form with mandatory questions, noting that petitions that were submitted last spring were bogged down with technicalities and are now being dealt with over six months later.
Making the office as efficient as it can be is Alonso’s goal for his time as chair, but it’s also important to him to introduce an aspect of warmth to the proceedings.
“It is important that all people within UCSB are able to feel safe and comfortable and know that the Association has their back.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 4 of the Jan. 24, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Sanya Kamidi is an asst. news editor for the Daily Nexus and can be reached at email@example.com.