I am the beat reporter for ASUCI’s Legislative Council, which means that I have been to nearly every single council meeting this year. It has been an interesting year for the Legislative Council.
For those who don’t know, the Legislative Council is a body of elected student representatives organized by school. The number of representatives each school has is determined by population. There are currently 15 representatives sitting on the council at UC Irvine.
There has been a serious problem this year with council vacancies. Vacancies can be caused by conflicting class times, a member taking another position within ASUCI, or frequent absences. When a council position is left vacant, a new one is appointed to fill the vacancy. Of the 15 person council, 10 members have been appointed this year. Appointed members have done a wonderful job this year, but the sheer volume of appointees reveals council members who did not understand the commitment they were undertaking when they ran for office. The result of this is sitting council members were not elected by the students.
The Legislative Council has done many positive things for the campus this academic year. They have funded UCI’s Welcome Week and Social Ecology Week. In addition, they have made motions to change campus financial policies by divesting from fossil fuels and the prison industrial complex.
Despite all of the positive changes they have done for the school there has been some serious issues that need to come to light. For example on Jan. 23, 2014, council members spent their “legislation writing time” by doing the following: studying, watching clips from Britain’s Got Talent, sparing, walking on tables, jumping on and over chairs, learning the rhythm routine to the “Cups Song” (from Pitch Perfect), interpretive dancing to Frozen’s “Let it Go,” which then lead to a discussion about Frozen as a movie.
There is no one cause for something like this to happen, but the students need to show up at meetings and hold them accountable. I doubt that the events that happened on Jan. 23rd would have happened if there were students who held them accountable. The Council is also to blame. There would not be a “legislation writing time” if the councilmembers had been writing legislation, which is a job requirement, before their meetings. When legislation was written before the meetings, it was submitted too late for discussion by the council. Due to tardiness of legislation being submitted, legislation is passed late, which wastes the council’s time.
If you are running for office, it is of vital importance to take the time and understand the role of the office you are seeking. What are the responsibilities and commitments that you are taking on? Do some self-assessment. Can you handle these responsibilities with your academic and work schedules?
My fellow students, while voting is important, it is not enough. We need to take the next step and keep our elected officers accountable. Show up at the meetings, get informed, and talk to your representatives, they are here for you.
Katie Licari is a third year literary journalism major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Opinion