ASUCR senate approves GCAP projects, amends elections code

The sixth and final ASUCR senate meeting of spring quarter convened at approximately 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31 in the senate chambers. The meeting was largely devoted to a series of bylaw amendments proposed by senators, most of which passed with little resistance.

After motioning to move two Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP) funding requests to the top of the agenda, Undergraduate Sustainability Director Bryan Martinez and GCAP Vice Chair Austin Mok gave a presentation on two sustainability projects currently underway. Mok, who according to Martinez will replace him next year as undergraduate sustainability director, first requested a grant of $4,000 from ASUCR that will go toward funding a project managed by the UCR chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The money will be used to install a solar-powered water pump for over 400 students attending a school in rural Tanzania, he said. The funds were granted with a unanimous vote of 13-0-0.

Martinez then requested another grant on behalf of GCAP, this time for the program’s Traditional Agriculture and Food Project. The project, he said, will address “food insecurity and sustainable methods of growing food” through campus workshops with students, as well as the establishment of “a native plot with sustainable irrigation which will provide food for undergrads.” His request for $3,994.40 was granted by another vote of 13-0-0.

The meeting then moved into proposals from the Legislative Review Committee (LRC). After the senate passed a few brief motions — one to remove the currently flawed ASUCR reporting structure chart from the organization’s website, the other to clarify the duties of the outreach director in the bylaws — CHASS Senator and 2017-18 President-elect Aram Ayrapetyan proposed four amendments to the Elections Code. The amendments, which Ayrapetyan said he developed in conjunction with Elections Director Marcy Kuo, were aimed toward both maintaining accountability during elections and making them “a little bit more fair for independent candidates,” he said.

The first amendment, Senate Bill (SB) S17-046, establishes a few rules regarding candidacy registration and election bylaw amendments. Under it, Ayrapetyan said, candidates will not be able to “run in an election if (they) have prior knowledge of (their) inability to complete the full term;” another section of the bill, he continued, ensures that no changes can be made to any elections code bylaws “without a majority of (the) elections committee voting on it prior to (the changes) being sent to LRC.”

SB S17-047 guarantees that candidates will be notified immediately of any charges of campaign rule violations during election season, and the third amendment — SB S17-048 — will encourage more participation of independent candidates, Ayrapetyan says, by raising the maximum allowed number of posters put up by those candidates from three to seven, and by making sure that candidates’ banner designs are in line with campaign rules before they are printed, to avoid wasting money. Ayrapetyan added that he is currently in talks with Finance Committee member Jose Cortez-Hernandez to next year expand the budget of $400 currently allotted to each independent candidate. Finally, SB S17-049 seeks to curb conflicts of interest by requiring any ASUCR members running in an election to recuse themselves from voting on “all affairs regarding elections after (their) candidacy has been filed.”

After senators suggested a handful of minor wording adjustments, the four amendments were approved by a single vote without objection.

The senate then continued to consider other proposals. CNAS Senator Carisha Moore introduced SB S17-055, which she said would require senators to “submit a (class) term plan to the Executive Vice President (each quarter), in order to make sure that we reach quorum at all senate meetings.” The bill passed without objection, as did CHASS Senator Ariel Chen’s SB S17-056, which is intended to provide more transparency in the form of minutes kept on each ASUCR meeting.

Ayrapetyan spoke once again to introduce SB S17-060, which would create three chair positions to maintain contact between ASUCR and various campus organizations. One chair would act as a liaison between ASUCR and ethnic and gender programs; another would maintain contact with the campus Greek community; and the last would work with any organization outside those two categories, he said. The motion passed with no objection.

Shortly before 8:00 p.m., the senate moved into a closed executive session, immediately after which the meeting ended.

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