Controversy continues in Auxiliary’s realignment

Though the administrative arm of the ASUC began reporting to a different department on campus July 1, little else has changed so far.

Aside from its direct change in reporting structure, further effects of the ASUC Auxiliary’s highly debated realignment to the Division of Student Affairs will come later, officials said.

Many of the effects that the Auxiliary will see will not occur until after students are back on campus, when a committee will be formed to discuss the details of the transition through the next few months, according to Jonathan Poullard, dean of students and assistant vice chancellor for student affairs.

While the exact effects of the realignment had previously been unclear, Poullard explained in an interview what some of the advantages may be.

Among the potential benefits of the Auxiliary reporting to student affairs  are creating a more streamlined operating system, leveraging the fundraising and marketing power of student affairs and potentially collaborating with other campus units such as Residential and Student Service Programs, Poullard said.

However, Poullard added that these are all potential outcomes of the transition that must still be discussed and explored by the transition committee.

“It’s not something that’s going to be done overnight,” Poullard said. “I think there’s lots of work to be done, and I think that we need to be very thoughtful and very deliberate. And to the best of our ability preserve the best of all components while providing opportunities to build upon that which we have.”

Previously, both the incoming and outgoing ASUC Senate classes united in a strongly worded letter decrying the change, while the outgoing senate passed a similar resolution, expressing “extreme disappointment” with the administration for allegedly rushing through the process and not involving the senate more in the discussion.

One concern in the letter and resolution was a potential conflict of interest between the Student Advocate’s Office and the Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards, which sits under student affairs.

But following the release of those senate documents, Poullard and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande — who oversees the division now housing the Auxiliary — were not immediately available for comment.

“I guess my overall response is that I can definitely understand,” Poullard said regarding the letter and resolution. “I can understand why folks might feel the way they reported to be feeling, and I can understand why students may have a perception of concern … however, there is no conflict of interest between the role that (the Student Advocate’s Office) plays in advocating for students when a student faces alleged conduct violations. The rules are the rules.”

Last year’s ASUC President Noah Stern had previously remained largely out of the public back-and-forth regarding the realignment. But he said in an email that he and former Graduate Assembly President Miguel Daal brought up several potential problems with such a move in a meeting last semester with key administrators involved in the realignment.

“I believe our explanation brought to light a number of issues they had not considered,” Stern said in the email.

Additionally, although the senate has said it was not involved enough in the realignment discussions throughout the process, a look at meeting minutes from last semester indicates senators did at least know that a realignment may occur.

The possibility of a realignment for the Auxiliary was brought up at several meetings. However, the discussion was mainly hypothetical, as many of the updates stated that no final decisions had been made.

Furthermore, the minutes provide some insight into the perspective of Auxiliary director Nadesan Permaul, who declined to comment on the move following his retirement just two days before the realignment took effect.

Because the coming year will be a complex one for the ASUC — especially with the Lower Sproul Plaza redevelopment project — at the Feb. 16 meeting Permaul questioned whether now is “the best time to break apart the services that provide the ASUC with support during this process.”

Though Permaul suggested that collaborating more closely with student affairs and other campus units made sense, he said at the meeting that there are other ways to collaborate with the campus that do not involve the “dismantling” of the Auxiliary.

“Moving forward, it is important that students are involved in every step of the process,” Stern said in the email. “The worst thing the ASUC can do is lose its seat at the table as its future is shaped.”

Allie Bidwell and J.D. Morris are news editors.