ASUC senators respond to 1st presidential veto

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Audrey McNamara/File

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ASUC President Yordanos Dejen issued a presidential veto — the first since 2010 — on a resolution building a BART-affordability working group, sending it back to the ASUC Senate floor for further review.

The resolution, written by Student Action Senator Andre Luu, passed through the senate with a 10-9 vote along partisan lines, but members of the Office of the External Affairs Vice President approached Dejen with concerns about the working group’s membership — specifically its lack of EAVP oversight and graduate student representation.

In a letter addressed to members of the ASUC sent Saturday, Dejen specified her desires for equal representation of undergraduate and graduate students, and for the resolution to specify which members would hold voting rights in the working group.

But Dejen said that her veto was for logistical purposes and that she will support the resolution as long as her suggested amendments are included.

Under the current resolution, the working group would include campus officials and Berkeley City Council members, along with student representatives. Dejen, however, suggested in her veto that only student members hold voting rights once the group is established.

According to ASUC Attorney General Alek Klimek, a president can issue a veto as long as he or she announces a “specific reason” for the veto within three days of the resolution’s passage through the senate.

“I am sure that there is frustration on both sides of the aisle, but I hope that senate can resolve the concerns brought up in the most equitable and efficient way possible,” Klimek said.

Luu said that when he learned of the veto, he was disappointed that the Office of the President had failed to consult with him about concerns — such as the resolution’s suggestion to appoint the ASUC and Graduate Assembly EAVPs as co-chairs — before announcing the veto to the rest of the ASUC.

According to Luu, the veto “creates an unproductive atmosphere and delays real work from getting done” because it was already passed by a senate majority. He said multiple senators have reached out to him with support in recent days, saying the veto was “unjustified.”

Independent Senator Cuahuctemoc Salinas said that he was shocked to hear of the veto and that “there are a lot of politics going on” surrounding the resolution.

“It saddens me that something like this would happen,” Salinas said. “But this doesn’t define the work he’s done so far and that he’s going to continue to do.”

Dejen explained that although she supports the idea of the working group, she believes that the resolution should ultimately be reconsidered in the University and External Affairs Committee as per the ASUC Constitution.

“We are built on our processes, and the ASUC has had such a long road with earning its legitimacy among students,” Dejen said. “I didn’t want that to be questioned later on.”

The last ASUC president to issue a veto did so on a bill that called for the University of California to divest from companies that have provided war supplies to Israel.

Ariel Hayat is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ArielHayat.