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ASUC Senate sends blank bills to committee, limiting students' political participation

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Former editor in chief and president

APRIL 20, 2015

The Daily Californian is concerned by the ASUC Senate’s decision to send three bills, including a bill titled “Upholding Financial Accountability of the Daily Californian and the VOICE Referendum,” to a senate committee, despite the fact the text of the bills have not been made public.

On Wednesday evening, the Daily Cal was alerted to Executive Vice President Justin Kong’s decision to introduce and sponsor a bill regarding the Daily Cal’s finances during that evening’s meeting. According to ASUC bylaws, a main motion must be introduced 48 hours in advance. If such a motion is introduced closer to the meeting time than the mandatory time frame, the ASUC Senate may allow the introduction of the bill if at least two-thirds of the senate votes to move it to committee. According to Kong, the bill passed by vote of the ASUC Senate that evening.

The V.O.I.C.E. fee referendum asked students to approve a $2 semesterly fee to support the newspaper. Students passed the fee, guaranteeing the Daily Cal an estimated $93,800 annually for five years. In the agreement, the Daily Cal agreed to “make available to the ASUC regular financial reports to account for the use of the student fee money.”

I have been reaching out to the ASUC since early March to schedule the Daily Cal’s end-of-year presentation to the ASUC Senate, including an explanation of the Daily Cal’s finances and how we have spent V.O.I.C.E. funds. Replicating the actions of my predecessor, I sent multiple emails requesting time to speak at an ASUC Senate meeting. I did not receive any replies until after this bill was introduced to the ASUC Senate.

We find it concerning that this bill, and the two other bills titled “A Bill Approving the ASUC Space Allocations for 2015-2016” and “A Bill Increasing Accountability of the ASUC Student Union Board” were rushed through the ASUC Senate before being written. We find it even more concerning that less than 12 hours before the committee meeting where the bills are scheduled to be discussed, the bills were still empty, apart from filler text. Even more concerning was the fact that Kong never once asked us for any additional information on our finances for the year before beginning to draft this bill.

Lastly, we find it concerning that the ASUC Senate would pass an unwritten bill, because doing so limits the ability for all students to participate in the political process. The ASUC Senate has repeatedly called for transparency from both the chancellor and UC Board of Regents but apparently fails to hold itself to the same standards of accountability.

Below is the full email chain between Klimek, Kong and myself.

The first communication in this chain was an email I sent to Klimek asking to speak to the ASUC Senate. This was the instance in which we first learned about the bill.

On Thursday morning, after the ASUC Senate had approved the bill moving to committee, the Daily Cal asked for access to the bill from Klimek and Kong because the bill, in the form of a Google Doc, was not publicly viewable.

By Thursday evening, we had not received a response, so we followed up again.

On Saturday, because we still had not received a response, we emailed again.

On Sunday, Kong responded, stating that the bill was not yet finalized.

Here is my latest email to Kong, sent Sunday afternoon. Since this last email, the empty bill has been made public.

We’re worried that this trend of limiting access to bills removes concerned students’ due process. If you know of any similar instances within the ASUC, please email me at [email protected].

Below is the text of the bill regarding the Daily Cal as it currently stands.

[documentcloud url=”https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1996098-a-bill-upholding-financial-accountability-of-the.html”][/documentcloud]

Chloe Hunt is the editor in chief and president. Contact her at [email protected]

APRIL 20, 2015

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