Parmita Choudhury and Brandi Jacobs were chosen as the newest members of the Associated Students, Inc. Senate during Wednesday’s meeting at the University Student Union.
At the end of a discussion that at times got raucous, Jacobs was chosen as senator for the College of Social Sciences after challenging the process under which Elijah Carrillo had been selected to fill the position.
During the public comment session, Jacobs told the ASI that she had applied for the position, “… and it came to my attention that the election committee had spoken to the candidate who was elected by the election committee, and I never had the opportunity to do that.”
Jacobs said that she was very involved in the College of Social Sciences and had a personal association with Dean Luz Gonzalez, and asked ASI to reconsider its decision. Previous ASI senator Patrick Simon also spoke on Jacobs’ behalf.
“I think that Brandi Jacobs would make an excellent replacement for me,” Simon said.
Choudhury addressed the senate before a vote was taken, saying that although she is a second-semester freshman, she had a long and distinguished career in high school that included many leadership roles.
Choudhury was appointed to the at-large seat in a near-unanimous vote, with only her sister, Songita, senator for the Lyles College of Engineering, abstaining.
The motion to approve Elijah Carrillo was met with objections. The question was posed as to why Carrillo was allowed to speak to the Personnel Committee but Jacobs wasn’t, since neither was invited to do so. Sen. Lauren Smoot said that she had “heard a lot of great things” about Jacobs.
A motion was made to amend discussion on the appointment of Elijah Carrillo. Sen. Alicia Orozco claimed the procedure was unfair, and that racism was involved.
“I don’t see why it’s a big issue that Elijah, or Mr. Carrillo, can’t be appointed to this position once the Personnel Committee has made a decision,” Orozco said. “I think it’s very unfair, and I think that race has to do with it; race has to do a lot with it,”
Sen. Diego De La Puente objected to the accusation of racism.
“If you guys look at everybody in the senate, over 65 percent of the people who sit on the senate are minorities,” De La Puente said. “There doesn’t appear to be any racism, not that I see.”
The vote to amend discussion on the appointment of Carrillo passed. A vote was then taken to approve Jacobs to the position.
Due to a number of abstentions, there was no majority, and Executive Vice President Selena Farnesi announced that without a majority the motion could not pass. She then announced a three-minute recess to confer with faculty advisor Gary Nelson.
Farnesi reconvened the meeting shortly thereafter and announced that during the recess she was told by Nelson that “abstentions do not count in your tally of the majority.”
“That being said, the count is six yesses to four noes; the motion passes, and Ms. Jacobs is now part of the senate as the Senator of Social Science,” Farnesi said. “Please join us.”
Jacobs then proceeded to take her seat as the ASI’s newest senator.
The senate approved two activity grants: $1,500 to the Chicano Writers & Artists Association to finance an appearance by writer Carla Trujillo, and $2,000 to the Bulldoggers Rodeo Club for livestock expenses.
The atmosphere intensified once again when discussion on the issue of health and retirement benefits for full-time ASI employees Tara Powers and Cynthia Dolan began.
Orozco and Vice President of Finance Cesar Sanchez had several questions about the procedure, and at one point Farnesi had to scold a member of the audience who interrupted the proceedings.
The plan, which would also cover future full-time ASI employees, passed 10-1, with Orozco being the only “no” vote. There were three abstentions.
Dave Tyckoson, associate dean at the Madden Library, spoke about the Laptop Lending program at the library, where students may borrow a laptop for up to four hours.
“Many of you know that last year we checked out 99,400-some laptops,” Tyckoson said. “I wish we had gotten another 600 to go over 100,000.”
Tyckoson also said that during the spring semester the library is running a pilot program at the second-floor service desk. The service desk will serve as the printing-help desk, so students will need to visit just one place if they need help with printing, formulating documents, or printing from a USB.
Sen. De La Puente announced that he will be hosting a fan booth for the March 17 St. Patrick’s Day baseball game as well as for the April Fool’s Day softball game.