ASUCI Senate formally began the academic school year’s first meeting last Tuesday, at which time Judicial Board Chief Annette Lee swore in seven new senators. During Senate’s two weekly meetings on Tuesday and Thursday, senators also reviewed the progress of ASUCI projects undertaken over the summer and passed a revised set of by-laws to match ASUCI’s new Constitution, which was rewritten last spring quarter.
The Senate branch of ASUCI is a representative council of elected students from each academic school on campus, as well as the student body at-large. There are also five appointed seats, known as ex-officio seats, in which representatives are appointed by the elected Senate members. Ex-officio seats are filled by undergraduates who represent a club or organization on campus. These representatives are also typically chosen by their club or organization to represent them in the Senate.
The Senate’s responsibilities include approving the fiscal year’s budget, voting on legislation, voting on recommendations to amend the ASUCI Constitution, Senate By-Laws, and the Elections Code.
To better represent their constituencies, Senators are required to hold weekly office hours to address student concerns in person. They are also required to hold quarterly meetings with the dean of their respective school to put forth student concerns and also to hear the concerns of school deans.
“This summer, our office worked on a lot of things” said ASUCI President Tracy La. “As President, I started releasing monthly office reports highlighting the work that my office is doing. One of those projects has led to the registration of about 2,500 students to vote since the start of Welcome Week.”
External Vice President Taylor Chanes reported that UCI sent a delegation of students to the UCSA Congress in August to work on several diversity campaigns. Chanes also announced that UCI will be hosting the 26th Students of Color Conference on Nov. 19 to 20, the first time in 10 years that UCI has hosted the conference.
Last Thursday, Senate divided itself into various committees based on interest. The four committees, Rules, Finance, Public Information and Advocacy, oversee the operations of the Senate and streamline the various day-to-day duties required.
The Senate also voted on Resolution 52-01, the ASUCI By-Laws Grand Revision. The revision was authored by a formal By-Laws Revision Committee over the summer to adjust the by-laws to the new ASUCI Constitution passed in spring quarter of 2016. The revised by-laws were required to “accurately delineate the roles and responsibilities of ASUCI officers and proceedings,” according the resolution. The legislation passed unanimously, with thirteen votes.
The Senate spent the last twenty minutes of the meeting learning Robert’s Rules of Order, a guide for conducting meetings and making decisions as a group. The mandatory training was intended to take place before the school year began, but was attended by only a few senators.
Senate attendance issues continued last Tuesday and Thursday, as neither meeting started on time due to senators’ failure to meet quorum, or the minimum amount of senators needed to start a meeting. Given that quorum is defined as half of total seats filled plus one, the twenty seats currently filled means quorum requires eleven senators in attendance. Tuesday’s meeting took forty minutes to meet quorum. Last Thursday’s meeting showed a marked improvement, starting only seven minutes late.
In response, Tin Hong, President Pro Tempore of the ASUCI Senate and Engineering Representative, spoke repeatedly about attendance and punctuality for Senate meetings.
At Thursday’s meeting Hong also emphasized the 24 Hour Rule, stipulating that a senator must inform the President of the Senate about absences at least 24 hours before the Senate meeting. Hong also stated that he is willing to remove Senators from their duties if they acquire too many unexcused absences. Hong stated that it was unfair that Senators who don’t do work receive pay, and that it was also unfair that entire segments of UCI’s student population effectively goes without representation simply because their representative doesn’t come.
“I don’t want to be your parent,” Hong joked. “I don’t want to pay child support.”
The Senate meets regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Woods Cove BC in the Student Center. Public comments from students and members of the UCI community are welcome on topics of discussion as well as legislation at the meetings.