The ASUC Senate questioned Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande at the senate’s meeting Wednesday night for the first time since the ASUC’s administrative branch moved under his purview last summer.
The ASUC Auxiliary’s July 1 shift in reporting structure from Administration and Finance to the campus Division of Student Affairs led the senate to strongly oppose the move, citing a potential loss of autonomy from the administration, a rushed process and lack of student input. A senate resolution passed unanimously over the summer called for Le Grande to discuss the changes with the senate last fall, but the discussion did not happen.
ASUC President Vishalli Loomba said to the senate that Le Grande may not have been able to discuss the issue with the senate last semester for logistical reasons.
The summer resolution said the administration did not explain how the transition — which had yet to take effect at the time — would preserve ASUC autonomy and gave no concrete details of its benefits to the student body. At the meeting Wednesday, Le Grande said he defined autonomy as the administration not becoming overly involved and did not believe there was any negative consequences of the transition.
“This (campus) is the only place I have been in that there is this level of distrust between the students and the administration,” Le Grande said at the meeting.
Loomba said the purpose of the discussion on the Auxiliary was to update the senate on the transition team’s progress and future timeline, but the senate decided to question Le Grande more broadly on the transition.
“We made that request (to speak to Le Grande) last semester to talk more generally, even before (the transition planning team) got started,” said Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein.
Additionally, senators asked Le Grande about what could have happened to the Auxiliary if the transition team was not formed. The team — consisting of student leaders and campus officials — was created in response to the senate’s concerns that the transition was being rushed and lacked student input.
Le Grande said to the senate that the transition was initially viewed as an administrative decision and that he felt the Auxiliary would fit better under student affairs because that would provide better services to students.
But the Auxiliary might see further changes with the addition of the transition team, which is charged with conducting an assessment of Auxiliary programs. The transition team plans to have a draft report completed by April 5 to send to Le Grande and the senate in order to receive feedback before a final report is due April 30.
Joey Freeman, ASUC external affairs vice president and a leader of the transition team, said at the meeting that the team completed visits to other schools in order to compare student government administrative structures as the team begins to create its own recommendations. Team members visited UCLA, the University of Southern California and San Diego State University, among others.
LeNorman Strong, associate vice chancellor of student affairs for Residential and Student Service Programs, who is leading the team with Freeman, said to the senate that internal interviews of Auxiliary staff are currently underway to re-evaluate Auxiliary services.
“I saw this as an opportunity … to help this institution make a monumental improvement to student life,” Strong said of the transition.
Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.