During its regular Wednesday meeting, the ASUC Senate deliberated at length with Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman regarding the Feb. 1 Yiannopoulos demonstration, and it discussed the modernization of the bylaws surrounding the academic affairs vice president grants.
The senators and Gilman discussed for roughly an hour what changes could be made to the protection of students, as well as to campus security when planning an event of this level of controversy and scale. Afterward, three student-athletes spoke during the public comment on Consent Calendar regarding the passage of the Underserved Student Equity Grant, previously called the Non-Traditional Student Equity Grant.
Gilman addressed both the event in general as well as the ensuing protest, assuring the senators that there was no legal path for the campus to deny Yiannopoulos the right to speak, and that while he himself is opposed to Yiannopoulos’ views, violence was not the answer.
“While I empathize deeply with and share the revulsion generated by Yiannopoulos’ vulgarian pantomime, blocking his exercise of his constitutional rights only serves to endanger our own,” Gilman said at the meeting.
Senators asked Gilman questions about the campus’s support for students, prior knowledge of the possibility of a riot and future protocols for a similar event, among other topics.
Most senators focused on the topic of student safety and how students could have been better protected from all angles; one even cited a student who was working in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union at the time of the protest. Gilman responded by posing the idea that there are two forms of safety — physical safety and peace of mind — but senators were insistent that both were necessary to protect students.
“We have very much the right to be disappointed in this administration for failing to protect and failing to support students when they felt unsafe,” said Senator Alyssa Liu to Gilman at the meeting. “We do not feel safe. The fact that the safe spaces that we had … were shut down even though they had been prepared to host students in their time of trauma is an absolute disappointment.”
After the lengthy discussion with Gilman, Senator Anthony Carrasco invited three student-athletes — Christopher Borrayo, Mia Croonquist and Xochitl Navarrete — to speak about the issue of financial instability within the student-athlete community. The three students alleged that not all student-athletes receive the same benefits, specifically in terms of scholarships.
The newly passed Underserved Student Equity Grant does not reference student-athletes in it, but multiple senators confirmed that they will be working to create a solution that is more tailored to the needs of the student-athlete community.
“Someone is going to get rained on if you try to put too many people (under the umbrella) … pushing some people in the rain,” said Senator Alaa Aissi. “So what we’re trying to do is keep that one umbrella in place but create another umbrella.”