In response to concerns raised last month about a lack of transparency in its legislative process, the UC Student Association is taking steps to improve communication with students.
At its monthly meeting last weekend held in Los Angeles, the UCSA Board of Directors discussed ways to better reach out to students who may be affected by decisions it makes by asking for feedback on proposed UCSA legislation before it is voted on.
The board came under fire last month after it passed a resolution arguing that HR 35 — a California State Assembly resolution that aims to curb anti-Semitism at the state’s higher education institutions — stifles free speech. Some members of Jewish and pro-Israel student groups on campus said they felt unfairly left out of the legislative process leading up to the UCSA’s decision to condemn the bill.
The general conclusion that was reached at the meeting last weekend was that the board needed to improve methods of relaying information to students at the UC campuses, said Shahryar Abbasi, UC Berkeley’s ASUC external affairs vice president and a campus representative on the UCSA board.
According to Abbasi, the outreach process leading up the UCSA’s resolution followed the process the UCSA has historically taken.
“But that does not mean it’s right, (and) we are trying to change that now,” Abbasi said. “We should have more visibility to our constituents by posting the agendas before meetings to blogs, Facebook and our respective associations’ websites.”
Abbasi said he plans on keeping ASUC senators informed about upcoming UCSA resolutions. The senators will then share the information with their constituents. He said he will also reach out to parties that have vested interests in the resolutions to get a wider range of perspectives before a vote occurs.
Currently, UCSA meetings are open to the public, and students are welcome to come and speak on any agenda item, according to UCSA President Raquel Morales, who was elected in a special election Saturday.
“We are transparent as an organization, but we can be more so,” Morales said. “The HR 35 resolution was just one of the things that made us realize it has to be done right away. We need to let students know what UCSA is and how they access us.”
Toward that end, the agenda was made available prior to last weekend’s meeting for the first time.
UCSA Executive Director Matt Haney said there were also students from the Jewish student group Hillel at the meeting who expressed their concerns with the way the board adopted the resolution.
“This was very helpful feedback,” Haney said. “It was a very open conversation about how elected representatives can do better jobs communicating to their constitutions, which is something we are always striving for.”
Contact Aliyah Mohammed at [email protected].
Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regard to the readers, writers and contributors of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Click here to read the full comment policy.