Senate discusses academic affairs vice president nominee

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The ASUC Senate held an impassioned discussion on the selection of Mon-Shane Chou as academic affairs vice president at its meeting Wednesday night.

To fill the position, which has been vacant for more than a month, a nominations committee of seven senators selected Chou for the position over the weekend and presented its selection Wednesday to the senate.

The senate must wait a week until the final vote for or against Chou as AAVP.

To allow for discussion and debate, the senate entered the Committee of the Whole. After about an hour of dialogue, they recommended Chou’s nomination with 15 votes in favor, two votes against and two abstentions. Independent Senator Sid Puri was absent.

The AAVP oversees the ASUC’s relationship with the Academic Senate and facilitates student-run programs. Many senators voiced the concern that without a unanimous vote, the senate would lose credibility in the eyes of the administration.

SQUELCH! Senator Dree Kavoussi expressed frustration at how the vacancy was hindering the progress of her premed advising project because the administration would feel more comfortable working with her and other ASUC senators once an AAVP is chosen.

A unanimous vote of approval would give Chou some ground in the “uphill battle” she would already be facing with the administration, said SQUELCH! senator and chair of the selection committee Madison Gordon.

Meanwhile, Student Action Senator Hannah Frankl said she felt bullied.

“I feel like my voice is being silenced by saying that we, as a senate, have to vote unanimously,” she said.

But SQUELCH! Senator Grant Genske stressed the importance of the senate to show unity.

“Must you think you’re being bullied,” he said, “if we don’t vote unanimously, we’ll all be bullied.”

Frankl and Student Action Senator Ori Herschmann were ultimately the two “no” votes. Student Action Senators Eric Gabrielli and Tanay Nandgaonkar abstained.

“While I know Mon-Shane is highly qualified, there are a lot of concerns from various students that need to be addressed,” Herschmann said in an email. “I am meeting with Mon-Shane later this week and hope to work out these concerns so that I can confidently vote yes.”

Chou was present for most of the discussion. She urged senators to reach out to her during one-on-one meetings in the upcoming week before the final vote.

In response to concerns about how she worked with those with whom she disagreed, Chou referred to her involvement in past ASUC projects: the UC Berkeley Food Pantry and student space reservations.

“It wasn’t only for progressive organizations. It was for all students,” she said. “Yes, I do have opinions — most people do — but that doesn’t (stop me) from working with people.”

During the final vote next week, 14 votes of approval or two-thirds of the senate, will be needed to pass the appointment.

“If you abstain, you take granted your position as a senator, your privilege of being here,” said CalSERVE Senator Baltazar Dasalla. “I want everyone to check that.”

The appointment of the attorney general, a position that was supposed to be filled in May, has been pushed back another two weeks. The constitutional review committee met earlier this week to interview the candidates but delayed deliberations and nominations because one candidate was not present.

To avoid a shutdown, the senate revised its bylaws and now must appoint an attorney general by the eighth senate meeting Oct. 22 with a two-thirds vote of approval.

Heyun Jeong covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @heyunjeong.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that SQUELCH! Senator Dree Kavoussi said the administration would not talk to her until the senate chose an AAVP. In fact, she said the administration has been talking with her, but the administration would feel more comfortable working with her and other ASUC senators once an AAVP was chosen.