ASUCI withdraws from United States Student Association

By Ashley Duong

In their second meeting of the 2018-2019 school year, the ASUCI Senate voted in favor of withdrawing from the United States Student Association (USSA). Resolution R54-01, authored by External Vice President (EVP) Holly Woods, passed 20-0-0.

As the EVP, Woods works to “promote student advocacy on a local, statewide and national level,” as stated on the ASUCI EVP page, which includes working with national student organizations such as USSA.

Discussion of the resolution revealed USSA board members had failed to respond to Woods despite multiple attempts at contact through email. In addition to the absence of efficient and effective communication, Woods also expressed a lack of confidence in the organization’s leadership and its ability to help a diverse group of students.

As written in the legislation, Woods alleges that USSA “has been unresponsive to the needs of black and minority students which USSA is said to represent and work to uplift.”

Woods also cited a “narrative from a [USSA] board member” in which Woods was told the current president of the organization, Joseline Garcia, attended a conference focused on the issues and struggles black students face and “inserted herself into the conversation as a non-black person.”

Although Woods encouraged ASUCI’s withdrawal from USSA, she expressed interest in working further with the University of California Student Association (UCSA) moving forward into her term.

During the meeting, the Senate also discussed an amendment to the Senate’s by-laws that would allow for the censure of an ASUCI senator as well as the endorsement of a $66 fix for higher education, a policy proposed by the Reclaim California Higher Education Coalition.

Senate members ultimately decided to commit the proposed by-law change to committee for further review. The change would allow the Senate as a collective to express dissent should a particular senator make statements or act in a way that is detrimental to the Senate as a governing body. Described by at-large senator Saul Lopez-Pulido, who co-authored the legislation, as a “legislative slap on the wrist,” the censure would have no binding power but would act as a warning and buffer-step to impeachment.

Discussion on the endorsement of the “$66 Fix” initially garnered support which quickly dwindled following a comment by External Vice President Woods, who noted that the policy did not address the needs of undocumented students. The policy, which aims to provide free public higher education in California, would tax California citizens an average of $66 (which would vary depending on income). The tax is expected to cover the costs of community colleges, CSUs and UCs. Following Woods’ comment, which came in the middle of the roll-call vote, the resolution passed with a 5-1-13 vote, which was halted by a motion to reconsider.

In response to Woods’ comment, Senate President Liam Withrow, author of the resolution, explained that he “had not considered that issue.”

The resolution was ultimately committed to the Senate advocacy committee for further review.

ASUCI Senate meetings are held at 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in Woods Cove BC.