CHASS senator challenges strikes and censures issued by judicial council

ASUCR’s first state of the association meeting of spring quarter began on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:11 p.m. in the senate chambers.

The senate welcomed newly instated CHASS Senator Danielle Flores, a second-year sustainability major and public policy minor, who serves as the replacement for former CHASS Senator Connie Fan who graduated at the end of winter quarter. Flores introduced herself and briefly described her goals to work with housing and dining on projects that could benefit students during her time as a senator.

CHASS Senator Semi Cole then spoke in front of the senate to bring forth his concern over his perceived lack of justification in how strikes against seven of the 16 senators had been administered following a judicial council hearing occurring on the morning of Wednesday, April 12. The hearing concerned a letter sent out to administration titled, “Letter from Senate regarding Judicial Breach of Power” in response to W17-JR-05, which illegally attempted to speak for both the legislative and executive branches in declaring judicial overreach.

Results from the hearing in reference ― announced at the Wednesday, April 12 senate meeting  ― determined that Cole, alongside CHASS Senator Jose Cortez-Hernandez and BCOE Senator Arneil Liban were now censured, with CHASS Senators Jonathan Javier and Ariel Chen, CNAS Senator Carisha Moore and President Pro Tempore Johnathan Li all receiving strikes that had not brought about the temporary revocation of their senatorial voting rights and stipend. Cole’s concerns stemmed from whether judicial had the authority to unilaterally censure senators without the approval of the senate or the executive cabinet, after his self-review of the ASUCR constitution and bylaws.

“Specifically, I am a senator, I still have my voting rights,” Cole spoke, while insinuating that the judicial council had no authority to administer strikes nor censure any of the senators because they had not followed what he deemed as the proper constitutional procedure.

Executive Vice President Wen-Yu Chou then read aloud a section from the judicial rules of procedure quoting, “Strikes will most often be assigned as a result of a guilty verdict in a case against a member of ASUCR, however, the judicial council has the authority to assign strikes in another situation when … they feel it is necessary and proper.” Following the citation, Chou asked Cole, “What was your question?”

“So when I sit down, do I have that right to vote, here and now?” Cole questioned. Chou then warned that action should not be taken, as the judicial opinion regarding the censures had not yet been publicly released. Prior to its release on Thursday, April 20, affected senate members were unable to file an appeal until the opinion was issued.

Cole also cited the judicial rules of procedure, stating, “For them to be able to be issuing strikes, they also have to give an explanation, and they didn’t do so.” “And it was done so strategically, in my opinion, that I don’t feel it’s right,” Cole declared. Chou then advised Cole to get into contact with the judicial council in order to move forward with how this issue would be addressed.

 Following a brief discussion amongst the horseshoe, Cole requested that one of the senators reinstate himself and the other two senators receiving censure, later revising his request to simply recognizing that the senators had “never been censured.”

CHASS Senator Aram Ayrapetyan requested that Cole read aloud the duties of a senator, of which he accepted. Ayrapetyan then countered saying, “So, anywhere in there, does it say senators interpret the constitution?”

“I’m not asking you to interpret the constitution, I’m asking you to enforce the constitution that governs us and gives us the right to be here right now,” Cole demanded.

Ultimately none of the senators chose to fulfill Cole’s plea to act out against this “injustice.”

W17-C-02, the majority opinion shedding light on the issued strikes, can be read on the ASUCR website.

Highlights:

-A vote to reinstate CHASS Senator Ariel Chen’s voting rights took place and her rights were rebounded through a vote of 8-1-0.

-Outreach Director Angelica Tan announced that she and her committee members would be visiting local high schools to discuss ASUCR and UCR.

 

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