Council Passes ‘SWANA’ Bill

While the legislation will have no direct impact, ASUCI will continue to push UCOP to include the SWANA category.

The ASUCI Legislative Council recently passed a bill calling for the creation of a separate ethnic category for Southwestern Asian and North African students to be added to the UC applications (Resolution R48-34) at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The Council passed R48-34 unanimously, joining UCI’s student government with other UC campuses such as UC Santa Barbra, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, who have enacted similar policies. The Council had rejected passing resolution R48-33 last week due to a lack of consultation with the school administration on the matter. This time the administration sent the Associate Director of Admissions and Relations with Schools, Deborah Decker, to discuss the matter with the Council. She saw no problems with the resolution, saying that the Council was “on the right track,” but pointed out that the passing of this resolution would not lead to any kind of affirmative action for SWANA students in the UC system.

“From the Admissions side of the house, we cannot do anything with the ethnicity component because it’s against Proposition 209. For us to even consider ethnicity while we’re evaluating and making admission decisions,” Decker said. “So from that perspective it has absolutely no influence on the process.”

California Proposition 209 was a ballot initiative in 1996 that was approved and added to the State Constitution. The Proposition prohibited public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity. This measure restricted affirmative action programs in California as a result.

Even though administration saw nothing wrong with the resolution and that it does not go against Proposition 209, Decker pointed out that it is rare for the administration to deal with ethnic issues in the UC system like the SWANA initiative.

Decker later said that administration was “supporting the process” to get the SWANA ethnic category placed on UC applications. However, UCI administration does not have the power to change the UC application process. The final decision for the SWANA initiative will lie with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) in Sacramento. Until a decision is made, ASUCI will push UCOP to approve the SWANA initiative.

The Council later pushed for another resolution for reform on Thursday, Feb. 21 entitled resolution R48-37, which will set new restrictions and regulations for the spring elections for ASUCI candidates and what they can use for their campaigns.

The resolution sets up new regulations in regard to equipment that candidates can use for their election campaigns. Under the resolution, students cannot use ASUCI or University equipment that is not available to the entire student population. Any question as to what is restricted for election purposes can be answered by ASUCI representatives.

There were attempts to amend the resolution by Council members. An amendment proposed by At-Large Representative Daisy Herrera dealing with spending caps for campaigns was discussed but not passed by the Council. Herrera’s goal with the proposed amendment was to make elections more equal.

“It is because [the elections] is always a competition as to how much people are spending. It shouldn’t be about that,” Herrera said. “It should be more of an equal opportunity for everyone. And I feel that in these times that students are financially on a crisis, there should be a cap. I know that Berkeley does have a cap on their senate as well as their execs positions.”

The Council members discussed the idea but could not come to a conclusion as to what a proper amount would be. One member who pushed to postpone the vote on the amendment was At-Large Representative Reza Zomorrodian, who wanted the process to be postponed until relevant statistics could be analyzed and students consulted before  a cap is determined.

“We need to have rational discussion about this and we need to have actual reasoning and data to figure out what that cap is,” Zomorrodian said, “We need to find out what the median income is, all those things. You don’t just arbitrarily place a $1,000 cap. Berkeley’s system is different from ours at the end of the day. Their student population is different from ours at the end of the day. And it also gets into the fact that the public should be here for something like that.”