AS Senate Privately Discusses Mental Health Prior to Approving Fee Referendum Text

AS Elections 2020 - NewsNewsStudent Government

black background with text saying "we are now in closed session"
Screenshot from the ASUCSD Senate Live Feed on January 15, 2020.

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Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) Senate granted a private, closed session audience to University Centers Advisory Board Chair Joey Mendoza during its January 15 meeting for a presentation on mental health. An hour later, ASUCSD Senate voted to approve language for a student mental health fee referendum.

Mendoza presented to Senate for approximately 40 minutes on “Student Mental Health” as listed on the agenda. Given ASUCSD rules, there is no public record of what exactly was discussed, and ASUCSD members are prohibited from publicly discussing details. It is unclear whether the presentation affected anyone’s vote on the mental health fee referendum language.

The senate unanimously approved the referendum, which, if placed on this spring’s ballot, will let students approve a new fee to fund CAPS and mental health programming.

According to the ASUCSD Constitution, the Senate may only enter a closed session for “personnel, existing or anticipated litigation, license or permit determination, threat to public services or facilities, labor negotiations, investments, contracts, or real property negotiations.” 

ASUCSD Vice President of Campus Affairs Melina Reynoso told The Triton that Mendoza was acting in his capacity as a student, not as the chair of UCAB, and that Senate went into a closed session for a presentation on “Student Mental Health” to discuss personnel, a reason normally used at other UC student governments and by the state government to discuss payroll, hiring, and firing of staff. Although members of ASUCSD work on student mental health, ASUCSD does not employ personnel solely dedicated to student mental health.

Additionally, Mendoza, as UCAB Chair, is not ASUCSD personnel, but Reynoso said that the constitution does not specify who qualifies as personnel.

Reynoso later told The Triton, “Any presentation regarding personnel of UCSD can warrant a closed session, our constitution does not clearly define what personnel matters are so if there are any questions or concerns as to what constitutes personnel [Judicial Board] could be called to interpret the constitution.”

Ethan Edward Coston is the Managing Editor of The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books.

Updated on January 31, 2020 at 7:11 p.m. to include that Mendoza was not presenting in his official capacity as chair of UCAB, but in his capacity as a UCSD student.