This article has been updated to include statements from Internal Vice President Bee Schaefer.
The 2022-23 Associated Students Senate has not been called into session since last June, causing a lack of Associated Student position appointments, internal issues and funding problems for the Association at large, multiple Associated Students sources confirmed.
Associated Students (A.S.) Assistant Director of Governmental Services Holly Mayes confirmed to the Nexus that the 73rd Senate has not been called into session since June 1, with its last email vote concluding June 27.
The duties of convening Senate and appointing positions belong to Internal Vice President Bee Schaefer. Sources within A.S. confirmed to the Nexus that Schaefer has consistently turned down meetings in the summer and neglected to attend executive meetings.
“No, other sessions were not called due to the senate not requesting a session and the senate not meeting necessary requirements to conduct a vote for a session,” Schaefer said in a statement to the Nexus.
Due to the lack of meetings and subsequent votes, the Senate has not been able to approve appointments of a pro-tempore — the Internal Vice President (IVP) second-in-command — a finance and business chair or an honoraria committee, the latter of which approves all paychecks for A.S. student employees.
Schaefer said to the Nexus that “the First President Pro Tempore was selected and serves as Chair of the Senate in the absence of IVP,” directly contradicting information from Mayes.
No A.S. student employees except for the A.S. executives, including the IVP, have been paid for the summer honoraria term.
“Senate approved retroactive honoraria during the 6/27 vote. No additional honoraria has been sent out or approved,” Mayes said in a statement to the Nexus.
Schaefer told the Nexus that “after combating administrative barriers, Summer Honoraria has been open and available for all members to apply,” and she hopes applications will be reviewed and considered by the Senate by Week 3 of fall quarter if participation and engagement from the Senate occurs.
“I will continue as I always have to and support all members to school and community resources and equitable and timely access to their honoraria,” she said in her statement.
All honoraria — stipends that A.S. employees receive — must be approved by the honoraria committee, which does not presently exist. The exception is executive honoraria, which does not need to be approved by the honoraria committee.
According to Article VI, Legislative Committees Section 15E, the Internal Vice President presides over the honoraria committee as chair, with first pro-tempore as vice chair, and oversees approval of all honoraria requests. Schaefer has not approved any summer honoraria except the retroactive honoraria on June 27.
Additionally, Schaefer is required to “coordinate the orientation of incoming and outgoing Senate members,” according to A.S. Legal Code. Currently, the Senate remains five members short, and no training has been conducted over the summer.
According to Schaefer, “most senate members did not engage with any Senatorial matters until late September 2022, thus resulting in some Legislative inactivity until Fall.”
The empty appointment positions violate legal code. Article VI Section 2c of the A.S. Constitution stipulates that a first pro-tempore — who would oversee the IVP’s duties in their absence — must be appointed by the Senate’s second meeting. The 73rd senate met for the second time on June 1 and failed to appoint an individual to the position.
A finance and business committee chair is meant to be appointed “in collaboration with the current Finance and Business Chair and the newly elected Internal Vice President,” according to Article VI Section 11 D2 of A.S. Legal Code. Schaefer failed to make such an appointment before the end of the school year, and the position remains empty, violating legal code.
This empty position has caused a slew of issues, essentially rendering the committee unable to function and train boards, committees and units (BCU) members to authorize their payment requests, a source told the Nexus.
Additionally, the same source told the Nexus that the 2021-22 fiscal year — which is to be closed by the Finance and Business committee’s advisor — has not been officially closed, hindering the committee’s ability to fulfill funding requests for the 2022-23 fiscal year for many BCU and campus organizations.
Schaefer said to the Nexus that the departure of several A.S. financial advisors exacerbated financial issues within the Senate.
“The departure of these individuals, naturally has created many unresolved financial problems, quagmires and delays which has exacerbated the allegations of A.S misappropriation of funds that is currently under investigation,” Schaefer said.
“Lack of financial transparency, for members and executives, is the biggest issue we as a legislative body combat, especially in requests for administration guidance over funds and how accounts are defined.”
Understaffing has also been a major factor in this dysfunction, according to A.S. sources. There have been no BCU or internal committee appointments made since Spring Quarter 2022, sources told the Nexus, and a lack of appointments to BCU essentially renders their functioning illegal under legal code.
Under legal code Article XI Section 1, the A.S. Senate must ratify all BCU positions by Week 9 of spring quarter in order for them to function as an A.S. entity — a task which the 73rd senate was not able to accomplish.
In an open letter sent to A.S. executive and Senate mailing list Sept. 27 calling for the IVP’s removal, fourth-year English major and A.S. Living History Project chair Ted Giardello said that his organization, an A.S. BCU, was unable to “legally meet and function as a result of the IVP’s failure to conduct a senate to appoint our membership.”
Giardello stated that his BCU’s activities and requisitions from the summer were also nullified, as a Senate meeting to approve minutes was never held. There are no Senate minutes from this summer, indicating a complete lack of meetings in that period.
Correction [09/28/2022 1:10 pm]: A previous version of this article stated that Schaefer did not call Senate to session all summer. Because of contesting claims around whether or not this can be labeled as a meeting of the Senate, the article has been changed to say the Senate has not been called into session since June until further clarification can be provided.