ASUCR: HUB referendum to be on ballot, judicial council orders stay of vacancy

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, the ASUCR senate met to discuss amending the Highlander Union Building (HUB) Expansion Referendum and the removal of the interim Vice President of External Affairs.

Vice President of Finance Shafi Karim introduced an amended version of the 2001 Highlander Union Building Expansion Referendum in order to give the HUB the option to allocate funding from student HUB fees, which are currently $110 per quarter, to potentially fund the Heat Music Festival that was cancelled earlier this year due to weather concerns.  

According to the amended version, the original referendum did not feature an option for HUB to fund Heat and reportedly concerns were raised “over whether HUB should continue programming special events.” Karim added the following clause to augment the utility of the HUB student fee, which read, “This fee may also be allocated to provide funding for special programs and events, including but not limited to musical festivals, as deemed in the best interests of student life and the general well-being of the UCR student body.”

When the floor was opened for questions, CNAS Senator Katherine Tatley asked, “Was there a lack of funding for Heat this year? … The way I see it originally, Heat was supposedly cancelled due to weather, not funding, so I’m just wondering why you’re bringing this up.”

Karim answered that there was no lack of funding for Heat this year but he was trying to get this amendment added to the ballot because, “legally HUB is not allowed to host Heat and use student fees money from this referendum.” Karim emphasized that the amendment would not require HUB to fund Heat but only give them the option.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval responded to Karim’s claims, explaining, “At the last HUB Board meeting I went and asked them to consider making a recommendation about the future of Heat that was predicated not on funding or appropriate use of funds but rather the fact that that the two out of three years that we’ve cancelled Heat due to weather … It really raises the question for the administration as to whether we should be scheduling a large-scale outdoor event … It had nothing to do with the legitimate use of HUB referenda funds for Heat expenses.”

After some discussion, the addition of the amendment to the ballot was passed with a vote of 7-0-2 and will appear on the ballot in spring 2016 for students to vote on.

Later on in the meeting, Justice Hayden Jackson spoke to announce a judicial order that stated that the Vice President of External Affairs Momo Hussein be removed from his position until the end of the academic year and that the interim vice president of external affairs seat remain vacant until March 23, 2016 — the start of spring quarter. Oscar Loera, who was decided by the ASUCR Judicial Council to be unconstitutionally appointed in January, had filled the seat since ex-Vice President of External Affairs Mohamed “Momo” Hussein was removed due to a censure.     

The order characterized the cases regarding the Office of the Vice President of External Affairs as “fraught with unconstitutional action, incorrect information, miscommunication, and other general confusion, since the beginning of this winter quarter.” It rationalized the order for the stay of the vacancy by explaining that a filled seat would “cause undue hardship and stress on the professional staff and the Accounting and Human Resources departments of UCR, as they will have to add someone to the Payroll and Personnel System (PPS) for such a short amount of time and add someone new.”

When pressed for specificity on rationale by President Pro Tempore Corey Willis, Jackson referred back to the order stating, “There are changes to bylaws regarding eligibility to serve pending, and we would also like a grade check for winter 2016 to happen before we appoint someone … Current eligible staff members in External Affairs should make every effort to assist in the smooth and efficient operations of ASUCR by assuming any duties they can keep the office running.”

Elections Director Melina Reyes also further pressed Jackson for details on specific constitutional bylaws being referred to in the order. Jackson replied that he could not discuss such information due to the rules and regulations of the case. The ASUCR Judicial Council holds meetings Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

Highlights:

-$100,000 of GCAP funding has been allocated to proceed with the solar greenhouse project in collaboration with the R’Garden and the Office of Sustainability. The project will be the first of its kind in the UC system and the facility will be used for research as well as to benefit the UCR community.  

-A new executive position, the Green Campus Action Plan Director, was created and will head the Green Campus Action Committee.

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