Editor’s Note: Former IVP Bee Schaefer did not respond to requests for an interview.
The A.S. Internal Vice President position underwent numerous changes in leadership throughout the 2022-23 school year in the wake of extreme internal dysfunction.
Bee Schaefer was originally elected to the Internal Vice President (IVP) position during Spring Quarter 2022 and served as chair of the Senate until Oct. 19, 2023, at which point she began an eight-week strike against the association citing anti-Blackness within A.S. Hailey Stankiewicz served as interim-IVP after Schaefer’s removal on Nov. 28, until the special election of Sydney Kupsh on Feb. 15.
The Senate did not convene throughout summer 2022, and an open letter from an A.S. member stated that Schaefer neglected the duties of her office, including appointing a pro-tempore and honoraria committee, which caused backups in internal appointments and payment for A.S. employees.
Schaefer — the only Black woman in the Senate — cited anti-Blackness and harassment as the reason for her strike, which began week three of Fall Quarter 2022 and denied all allegations of negligence. The strike continued for eight weeks, during which time the Senate was unable to officially meet because of the lack of an appointed pro-tempore.
A.S. President Gurleen Pabla issued an executive order on Nov. 28 deeming the IVP position vacant following Schaefer’s strike and called for a special election during Winter Quarter 2023 to fill the position.
“I have not resigned. I have been canceled, blocked and removed from my email although I am present,” Schaefer said in an email statement to Pabla and A.S. entities. “Your action actually further proves my case [regarding] erasure from my appointment and denial for due process.”
Schaefer filed a Judicial Council case on the harassment and discrimination she faced within A.S., but the case was suspended due to Schaefer’s lack of email access, according to Attorney General Adam Bagul, who also cited “multiple efforts” to contact Schaefer.
Following the Executive Order, External Vice President for Local Affairs and fourth-year economics and political science double major Hailey Stankiewicz took over as interim-IVP, as the line of succession in A.S. legal code dictates.
“I knew that for an entire quarter the legislative branch of the association wasn’t functioning … there were so many setbacks that were hurting so many students,” Stankiewicz said. “My expectation was to fulfill the executive order and stabilize the legislative branch, which I do think that I did.”
The Nexus concurs. Stankiewicz’s leadership ultimately allowed A.S. operations to resume after months of dysfunction from the largest nonprofit in Santa Barbara County: A.S.
Prior to being elected as External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA), Stankiewicz served as Letters & Science Senator on the 72nd Senate, chaired the Finance and Business Committee and was a member of the Honoraria Committee. She cited her past experience in the Senate as key in leading the Senate through dysfunction, and said she also provided help to Senators prior to the executive order.
“Even fall quarter, I did offer a lot of guidance to senators and met with Senate leadership multiple times just to offer them support,” Stankiewicz said. “I [told senators] ‘Senate’s not meeting, you’re not writing legislation, but if you want to work on projects, work with me in my office and we can help you.’”
Stepping into the role, Stankiewicz said she was focused on stabilizing the legislative branch — serving on the interim Fall Quarter 2022 honoraria committee — and managing a Senate that had no knowledge of Senatorial duties and procedure due to a lack of training.
Prior to the Senate’s first Winter Quarter 2023 meeting on Jan. 11, Stankiewicz held brief, condensed trainings on Roberts Rules of Order and parliamentary procedure for Senators. That same month, she organized a retreat to guide Senators through authoring legislation, and held workshops on professionalism in workspaces and navigating key issues on campus.
“We did a critical issues on this campus workshop and they were collaboratively together for the first time ever during that training,” Stankiewicz said. “I saw so much passion come back to their eyes, it was literally amazing.”
Despite stepping into an executive position in an interim capacity, the Nexus believes that Stankiewicz’s conviction and proactive leadership was instrumental to kickstarting A.S. operations after months of stagnancy well into the 2022-23 school year.
While serving as interim-IVP, Stankiewicz functionally continued her EVPLA duties, which she noted as a monumental challenge during her tenure.
“I still did the amount of work that a normal EVPLA would do while I was also being internal vice president, which was really, really hard honestly,” Stankiewicz said.
She remained in the position starting Jan. 11 until third-year economics and communication double major Sydney Kupsh was elected IVP during the Feb. 10 special election and sworn in on Feb. 15.
Kupsh joined the Finance and Business committee and Basic Needs Committees in Fall Quarter 2022 with no prior A.S. experience. She attended three Senate meetings prior to being elected and told the Nexus that Senate sounded “fun” from descriptions heard from her friends.
“All my friends told me that I was crazy for thinking that it was fun,” Kupsh said. “I also noticed that a lot of people weren’t really running and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to step in.”
Outside of A.S., Kupsh was recruitment director for UCSB Kappa Alpha Theta and said she thought her Greek life connections offered “bigger outreach” and helped her meet the voter threshold.
In helping Kupsh transition to the role, Stankiewicz said she provided training documents, met with her weekly and attended several Senate meetings to oversee procedure and provide support.
“Even when I wasn’t the Internal Vice President anymore, I did a lot of work to help her,” Stankiewicz said. “She’s an amazing leader and was able to learn how to be the chair so fast, so I really do applaud her for that.”
Kupsh said her main goal was to ensure the Senate was functioning smoothly, which included the weeks-long process of interviewing and hiring to fill Senate vacancies.
“It feels like just two weeks ago we were fully up and running, so we didn’t really have as much time to do projects,” Kupsh said.
Though Kupsh’s tenure was brief, her leadership of the Senate was at times lacking, with disorderly Senatorial conduct during some interactions with public forum speakers and legislative discussion at meetings, including when the Senate convened on March 1.
Despite the constraints, Kupsh expressed pride in the work she was able to accomplish in her tenure — including organizing the first off-campus Senate retreat in nine years to visit the California State Capitol and launching an Instagram account for the Senate.
“It’s an easy hub where you can find information about Senate, and I’m expecting that to grow a lot during the 74th Senate,” Kupsh said.
On incoming IVP third-year biochemistry major Sohum Kalia, Kupsh said they “talk almost every day,” and she has full faith in his performance in the position.
“He’s going to fulfill this position perfectly, and do a really good job.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the May 11, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.