Members of the UC Santa Barbara Associated Students provided public comment regarding former Internal Vice President Bee Schaefer during the Jan. 25 Senate meeting held in the UCen Flying A Studios Room.
Interim Internal Vice President (IVP) and fourth-year political science and sociology double major Hailey Stankiewicz was not present, and pro-tempore and third-year economics and philosophy double major Sohum Kalia chaired the meeting in her absence. The Wednesday meeting was the first time Senate met in person since Sept. 28, 2022, and the third Senate meeting of Winter Quarter 2022.
Associated Students (A.S.) President and fourth-year political science major Gurleen Pabla issued an executive order in December to remove former IVP Bee Schaefer from her position, citing a monthslong strike from her duties and previous allegations that she had been negligent in her position.
Schaefer’s strike began Oct. 19 in response to anti-Black harassment and prejudice within A.S., which Schaefer said impacted her so much she reverted to online instruction.
The executive order also called for a special election for the IVP position to occur this quarter, and had the support of all four executive officers besides Schaefer.
The Senate’s public forum discussion follows a petition launched by the Afrikan Black Coalition (ABC) on Jan. 23 asking for support from UC Student Association (UCSA) and UC Office of the President (UCOP) in holding UCSB entities accountable for their treatment of Schaefer. The petition was signed by members of Black Student Unions across California college campuses, as well as other Santa Barbara and UCSB groups.
The petition called for accountability from UCSB administration, Chancellor Henry T. Yang, the UCSB Office of Student Affairs and UCSB Associated Students. ABC also named the Daily Nexus as an entity complicit in mistreatment of Schaefer.
“As of this writing, we have not received any communication or petition from the Afrikan Black Coalition and as a result are unable to comment on its contents at this time,” a UCOP representative said in a statement to the Nexus. UCSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
During the public forum, External Vice President for Statewide Affairs and fourth-year sociology and Asian American studies double major Marvia Cunanan voiced discontent with Schaefer’s removal. Cunanan originally released a statement in October 2022 in support of a recall petition against Schaefer, stating that she “empathize[s] with and support[s] the students who are asking for clarity and transparency” regarding allegations of neglect.
“I believe in treating people with grace and compassion and patience, and respect. I worry that in my own actions last quarter, and eventual support of Bee’s de facto recall, I fell short of these values,” Cunanan said. “I believe Bee deserves due process and urge senators to engage in an investigation as to why her Judicial Council cases have been denied and terminated.”
In October, two Judicial Council cases were filed related to Schaefer: one filed against Schaefer alleging violations of A.S. Legal Code during her IVP term, and a case Schaefer filed in regards to discrimination, harassment and racism she faced since last quarter. Attorney General and fourth-year history major Adam Bagul addressed the treatment of the cases during the Senate’s public forum.
“I took both of those seriously, and I treated them as two separate issues,” Bagul said.
Bagul said that following the filing of these cases, he contacted Schaefer multiple times for clarification on details that he said were filled out incorrectly but received no response.
“I was a part of multiple efforts, aside from this email chain, to try to get in touch with Bee and try to mediate this conflict as best as we could, including talks with a professional mediator the university hired,” Bagul said. “Personally, I know that many executive officers also reached out to Bee throughout the quarter, trying to get in touch with her and trying to resolve this on a level that didn’t have to be to the Judicial Council.”
Kalia, the Senator that filed the Judicial Council case against Schaefer, confirmed that both Judicial Council cases are suspended due to Schaefer’s lack of email access and inability to respond.
“The ex-judicial removal of the IVP by the President’s executive order has removed their access to both their email and ability to defend themselves in a judicial hearing,” Kalia said in a statement to the Nexus. “I sincerely hope that Schaefer will have the opportunity to defend themselves in a fair judicial council hearing and that due process will be able to run its course.”
Cunanan also voiced concern over a bill to enumerate Accountability Codes that may be enforced by the A.S. Office of the Attorney General. This bill outlines an accountability system as “a form of retributive justice that focuses on correcting offenses in an escalatory manner, whereby consequences are proportional to the degree of the offense,” according to the bill’s language.
“When you deliberate this agenda item later, please consider how we might make space for addressing the possibility that alleged violations of legal code may result from duress or harm an individual in these positions may experience,” Cunanan said.
The Senate passed three pieces of legislation during the meeting: a Bill to enumerate Accountability Codes that may be enforced by the UCSB Associated Students Office of the Attorney General, a Bill to Update the Isla Vista Community Relations Committee’s Legal Code and a Resolution to Amend the Resolution to Establish the Senate Appointment Ad Hoc Committee.
Fourth-year political science major MinJun Zha was sworn in as International Student Senator during the meeting.
CORRECTION [1/28/2023, 3:32 p.m.]: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Wednesday meeting was the third Senate meeting of the school year. The meeting was the third Senate meeting of Winter Quarter 2022.
Editor’s Note: The Daily Nexus responded to Schaefer’s response to the Nexus’s reporting on the allegations against her in this editorial.