Three more Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) Senators resigned last week and one absentee senator was removed, continuing the trend of vacated ASUCSD Senate seats.
Revelle College Senator Niall O’Hanlon resigned late last Sunday night, Arts and Humanities Senator Amy Henderson resigned last Monday afternoon, and Physical Sciences Senator Nhi Nguyen resigned Tuesday afternoon. None of the senators have cited consistent reasons for their resignations, outside of unforeseen circumstances, academics, health problems, or burnout.
O’Hanlon, Henderson, and Nguyen’s resignations make the sixth, seventh, and eighth Senate resignations this year. Revelle College Senator Daniel Carnahan was removed this week after exceeding his allowed number of absences by Revelle College Council. Carnahan’s removal from Senate makes the ninth Senate seat to be vacated this year and the fourth of the quarter.
The announcements of these resignations were made through the internal ASUCSD email list and have not been officially communicated to the student body through channels like the ASUCSD Facebook or website.
According to two senators, the ASUCSD meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 31 lacked quorum, the minimum number of members that must be present for a vote. Because of this, no funds for student organizations could be allocated and no new appointments could be voted on.
Many students are left wondering if the problems of resignation are not interpersonal, but the structure of ASUCSD itself.
Claire Maniti, former University Centers Advisory Board Chair and ASUCSD Elections Manager from 2015–16, believes that it’s a combination of the current election process and senators’ requirements being oriented toward programming instead of policy or advocacy.
“You get a lot of folks who are elected through slates who get burned out, because that elections process is so draining,” Maniti said. “But also a lot of folks on slates don’t seem to be actually inspired to do the work they’ve been recruited and then elected to champion.”
On ASUCSD, senators are also required to take on “projects,” as well as sit on at least one ASUCSD “standing committee,” which oversee a broad range of policy areas. In stark contrast to UCSD, UC Berkeley’s student government, the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), exists almost as a parallel universe in terms of resignations.
Matthew Lewis, who previously served as the Director of Local Affairs and Student Housing for the ASUC, said that resignations like this rarely happen at Berkeley, if ever. Lewis attributes the lack of resignations within Berkeley student government to hyper partisanship, where on-campus political parties are fiercely defensive of their seats in order to maintain and push forward policy positions in-line with their beliefs.
At the same time, Berkeley’s election system is also strikingly different. Whereas they are able to recruit openly and have consistent parties, called “slates,” that have existed for decades, the ASUCSD Elections Code prohibits the open organization of slates prior to the official beginning of the election season.
In terms of the gravity of the situation, Lewis can only speak for UC Berkeley.
“Having even a single resignation in a year is considered pretty major,” said Lewis. “If what was happening at ASUCSD was happening in ASUC, it’d be considered almost like a crisis.”
The filing period for ASUCSD candidates for the 2018–19 school year begins Tuesday, Feb. 27 and ends the following Thursday.
Gabe Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him on Twitter @gabemschneider