New Conflict Rises in ASUC

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A bitter and protracted debate paralyzed the ASUC Senate for three hours Wednesday night when senators refused to approve nominations for the university's Academic Senate.

The 27 nominees of Academic Vice President Jen Chang were supposed to be approved at the meeting, but it became clear that they would not receive the the necessary two-thirds majority. The decision was postponed and Chang's staff conceded to Senate demands. Chang was not present at the meeting.

The senate wanted applicant interview notes and a pledge from Meredith Packer, Chang's chief of staff, to look at other candidates.

The debate occasionally lapsed into heated arguments and personal attacks.

"Some people appointed to these committees are undeniably unqualified," said Cal-SERVE Senator Evora Griffith. "We need to take the senate's objections seriously and not hastily make a decision over the appointments."

Senators and Chang's office finally reached an agreement that will allow the senate to look over the detailed notes, which the office previously withheld citing privacy concerns. They are expected to vote on the appointments with no debate Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the prospective appointees will begin attending Academic Senate meetings immediately and will be recalled if they are not confirmed by the senate.

Conflict between the Cal-SERVE party, which argued that some appointees were unqualified, and the Student Action party, which defended the appointment process, initially dominated the debate. Some senators pushed for a swift compromise, while Green Party Senator Erwin Tam demanded more time to review the appointments, noting that information on the appointees had been provided earlier that same evening.

Senators questioned the appointees' experience in understanding university issues and alleged a lack of ethnic diversity among the nominated students. They also said the positions were poorly advertised, which limited the applicant pool.

Student Action officials blasted other parties for stonewalling the appointments, saying the senate wanted to take over the hiring process.

"I think (Cal football) Coach Holmoe should have come to the senate for defensive linemen, because some senators here are good at blocking forward progress at Cal," said Gray Chynoweth, Student Action's chair.

Earlier in the meeting, Packer, a Student Action member, found herself beset by occasional personal attacks from other parties, with some senators questioning her intentions.

Packer said she wanted the senate to trust her office's ability and hoped for a quick approval so the appointees could represent student interests as soon as possible. She later said, however, that she wanted to work with the senate to allay any concerns over appointments.

"I believe that, without a doubt, these are the best people for the job," Packer said. "Petty politics are blocking students from having a voice in the administration."

APPLE Party Chair Chris Wendt portrayed the compromise as a win-win situation, noting Packer offered the final agreement.

"The Senate made a tripartisan compromise in stepping above party politics to form a solution," Wendt said. "Every party had input and walked out unanimously approving the compromise."


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