A new UC Santa Barbara Associated Students bill — introduced by senators fourth-year political science major Granger Cruz-Brenneman and third-year biochemistry major Sohum Kalia — proposed the Associated Students adopt the Westminster parliamentary system of government in place of their current American democratic system. The bill was introduced during the Senate’s March 1 meeting, and indefinitely tabled after discussion.

The bill — ‘A Proposed Amendment to Adopt the Westminster Parliamentary System’ — classifies all five executive officers as voting senators. Candidates run as senators during the general election, and once the Senate is elected, executives are internally appointed through majority vote. 

The Westminster system is a model of government development developed in England and implemented in several countries — including Britain, Canada and New Zealand — that does not convene under a president and whose executive branch is made up of members of the legislature.

The bill — authored by Cruz-Brenneman and seconded by Kalia — aims to address A.S. dysfunction and “strife” by merging the legislative and executive branches of A.S.

“This government is supposed to be a government for students, not a government for the entire country,” Kalia said. “The way it’s designed, we’ve been duking it out with each other, branch to branch, for years.”

The new executive positions stated in the bill are the president, secretary of treasury, secretary of local affairs, secretary of external affairs and student advocate general. As voting Senate members, executives are required to attend each Senate meeting.

“Executive officers remain Senators during their term. The Legislative and Executive branches are united into one policymaking arm,” Cruz-Brenneman said in a statement to the Nexus.

The bill is on the agenda for the Senate’s March 1 meeting. Cruz-Brenneman and Kalia said that feedback from A.S. members was “positive,” and both senators invited discussion over the bill’s details.

“We haven’t actually heard anyone outright say no to it yet, but there is a lot of interest in how this is going to work,” Kalia said.

If passed, the bill would make UCSB would be the first student government in the U.S. to adopt the Westminster system, something Cruz-Brenneman saw as a point of pride.

“This is something that I hope both students and researchers of political science [and] constitutional scholars on both a state and federal level will look to,” Cruz-Brenneman said. “I hope this sets an example and really starts a movement of questioning whether or not the system that’s been accepted within the United States is truly the best system.”

In addressing potential student backlash, Cruz-Brenneman said they think the student body wants change, and is tired of the “gridlock” and “opacity” of the current government.

Kalia said he hopes the amendment would better serve the student body and believes it can usher in a needed change.

“No one cares about A.S. because we don’t do anything that they care about, and we don’t essentially care about them,” Kalia said. “We’re hoping that this system will change that and bring a collaborative system where we can build things that the student body cares about.”

A version of this article appeared on p. 4 of the March 2, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Sindhu Ananthavel
Sindhu Ananthavel (she/they) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ananthavel was the Deputy News Editor for the 2022-23 school year, the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2021-22 school year and an assistant news editor for the 2021-22 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com.