Lack of senator attendance forces recess at ASUC senate meeting

Matthew Lee/File
The ASUC Senate meets on March 14. ASUC Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath was forced to call a recess at the senate meeting Wednesday night to find senators to meet the two-thirds majority necessary to vote on proposed bills.

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UPDATE: Since the story was first published, The Daily Cal has confirmed the names of senators who were not in attendance for the first roll call. Those senators were Rosemary Hua, Chen-Chen Huo, Sidronio Jacobo, Ryan Kang, Rafi Lurie and Jorge Pacheco.

ASUC Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath was forced to call a recess at the senate meeting Wednesday night in order to locate enough senators to meet the two-thirds majority necessary to vote on proposed bills.

Senator attendance has been a persistent problem, especially as the ASUC Senate gears up for spring elections, according to Senator Mihir Deo.

Senators Rosemary Hua, Chen-Chen Huo, Sidronio Jacobo, Ryan Kang, Rafi Lurie and Jorge Pacheco were all absent at the time of the first roll call.

Members of BAMN, a coalition that fights for affirmative action immigrant rights, were attempting to add a bill to the agenda when Sayarath was forced to call a five-minute recess so that more senators could be called.

Without a two-thirds majority — or 14 senators — nothing could be done with the bill.

Eventually, enough senators were found, but they were so rushed that they voted without reading the bill or hearing any discussion. Members of BAMN pointed this out, and the senators in question acknowledged that their concerns were valid.

The discussion surrounding the bill had to be rehashed from the beginning, which wasted time that could have been spent on important agenda issues, several senators pointed out.

After a second recess later in the night, the same measure had to be taken after senators failed to return, and senate discussion turned to the inappropriateness of the absences.

“It’s completely embarrassing that we don’t even have enough senators here to vote on bills for our community,” Deo said. “The senators here need to go back to their parties and say, ‘What the hell are we doing?’”

Several absent or tardy senators cited executive campaign responsibilities as the reason for their absence, an excuse that made others bristle.

“We shouldn’t be using this senate time to be campaigning for the next position,” said Senator Daley Vertiz. “This is our job. I feel disrespected.”

Other senators who had invited their communities to speak voiced frustration at the lack of responsibility.

“I’m more embarrassed than upset,” said Senator Sadia Saifuddin. “My community came out tonight, and they don’t do that often, and one reason is that they think the ASUC is a joke. Tonight, we proved to my community that we are a joke. People have elected us to serve them.”

Senator Megan Majd stated to that this happens every year and urged change in the place of complaints.

“This is indeed something that happens every year, I agree with you,” Senator Nolan Pack responded. “I think the bylaws as they stand are reinforcing this issue. Right now, senators can miss 25 percent of meetings before facing any fear of repercussions.”

DJ Sellarole covers the ASUC. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @DJSellarole.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jason Bellet was absent at the first roll call. In fact, he was in attendance at the first roll call but left before the second.