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Senate continues debate over transparency for events deemed controversial

A resolution regarding campus transparency after October’s Campus Clash ends in the tabling of the resolution.

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Senate continues debate over transparency for events deemed controversial

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The debate regarding Resolution #2019-06, “In Support for Increased Transparency,” made its way back to the Associated Students Inc. Senate floor Wednesday evening.

The writers of the resolution, Sens. Megan Kim, Melissa Mejia and Brianna Guzman, focused most of their attention on the second draft toward rewording statements and phrases that were deemed by the Senate the week before to be either too ambiguous or too specific to the Campus Clash event.

A panel and Q&A held Oct. 23 by nonprofit right-wing organization Turning Point USA, Campus Clash was met with wide backlash from university students, not just because of the content of the night’s panel, but also because of the way that the university prepared students for the total closure of the USU, increased security detail that included riot-gear equipped officers and K-9 units.

The resolution’s title was changed to “In support for Increased Transparency Regarding Controversial Events” by Kim in response to feelings over the ambiguity of the title’s intention.

Sen. Omar Prudencio Gonzalez immediately voiced concerns over the alteration, asking Kim to define the term “controversial,” deeming it too subjective.

Guzman responded by clarifying that what constitutes a controversial event would be any event that “would stir a division among students or just the school in general.”

Shifting the discussion, Sen. Alejandra Aguilar questioned why Kim and Mejia immediately took the resolution route after the event instead of first opening a dialogue with LBSU campus police, expressing that drafting a resolution first almost comes across like an attack against the competence of University Police Department.

“If we really want to be transparent, why don’t we be transparent with [student’s] concerns with the campus police instead of writing this resolution,” Aguilar said. “Talking to campus police as to the reasons why they took the actions that they took before writing this resolution, so that there’s less confusion with what needs to be written.”

Mejia clarified that the resolution is, in no way, intended as an attack against the University Police Department.

“To be quite frank, if we have some kind of training it would be geared toward students, so that they have the tools and resources to know what their rights are in a protesting situation or in any sort of nonviolent civil disobedience,” she stated.
As the meeting progressed, it became clear that the general attitude of the Senate toward the resolution was far more positive than negative.

Sens. Justin Contreras, Aaron Jordan, Frances Canales among others all expressed the resolution possessed strong potential, but each also made it clear they were more in favor of the overall ideas that the resolution represents, rather than what the it actually asks for in its wording.

“Even if we reject this resolution, it doesn’t mean that we’re rejecting all the ideas of this resolution or completely shutting it down, it just means that we believe this resolution needs more work,”  Contreras said. “This resolution, if we don’t take our time with it, it has the potential to cause more harm than good … it does have a lot of potential, and I think we should do a lot more research before we search for a solution.”

The resolution was tabled at the recommendation of Senate Vice President Leen Almadhi, after the discussion continued past the half-hour point.

The idea behind tabling the resolution for now was, as described by Almadhi, to “further discuss [the resolution] with [University Student Union Board of Trustees] facilities, some staff members and University police so that when it comes back it’s the strongest it can possibly be.”

The atmosphere in the room shifted as all the Senators grew quiet. Almadhi reassured the Senate that they were making progress on an issue that was worth fighting for, but that more time was necessary in order to proceed.

“This is an amazing start, this is a great thing that we’re actually being able to discuss within these meetings,” she said. “But the reality of the situation is we’re student leaders and we need to make sure that everything we put out is perfect the first time, and that we don’t have any loopholes within this legislation.”

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