A&O regains ASG seat after appeal; College Dems less lucky

Nathalie Tadena

A&O Productions was able to regain a seat in the Associated Student Government Senate in a compromise brokered at Wednesday night’s Senate meeting.

A coalition of A&O, Niteskool Productions and Mayfest was collectively awarded a Senate seat after Model Arab League and Peace of Mind agreed to relinquish their shared seat to provide representation for the entertainment-oriented campus groups. A&O initially lost its seat in an ASG review, and the group’s representatives said they were happy to get a voice in Senate back.

“We came up with a good resolution to the problem, and I think all parties are happy with the way things ended,” said Sebastian Rodriguez, A&O’s director of finance and former senator.

Model Arab League and Peace of Mind formed a coalition with the Muslim-cultural Student Association in order to create room for the entertainment groups. McSA senator Wajeeh Bakhsh said the changes will be effective because McSA, Peace of Mind and Model Arab League represent similar constituencies.

“I welcome the change and I’m more than happy to work with them,” he said.

In spring, 17 student groups applied for 15 available Senate seats. Both A&O and College Democrats held Senate seats last year, but were denied seats this fall by ASG’s Executive Committee. College Democrats was faulted for financial misconduct last year when the group failed to consult the Student Activities Finance Board when dividing funds for bringing in a single speaker, instead opting to bring in a series of speakers. They did not appeal the ASG decision. A&O failed to reach out to a “unique constituency” in its application, which led to the rejection.

“I’m not a revolutionary, but the concept of ‘unique constituency’ comes up every single year because essentially that’s what you’re looking at,” said Vikram Karandikar, ASG executive vice president. “Every group is great, applications are competitive, but when it comes down to it, you’re looking at what unique voice and mission that this group is promoting won’t be in the Senate if the group doesn’t get a seat.”

Former College Democrats senator Jeff Cao said he is not “completely satisfied” with the Executive Committee’s decision.

“We have enough of a unique viewpoint, and we still merit a seat,” Cao said. “Although there have been financial circumstances, we’ve been putting on good events.”

Senate representation is “incredibly important” for student groups to voice concerns on university policies and funding, said A&O chairwoman Syd Cohen.

“You have to make sure your voice is heard,” she said. “Your organization has to be kept in consideration when a decision is made.”

In order to appeal for a Senate seat, a student group must argue why another student group should forfeit their seat. This represents a fundamental flaw in the process, Karandikar said.

“The system’s broken, and the fact that student groups, during the appeals process, will have to target another group and take their seat away to get theirs is one of the biggest flaws,” Karandikar said. “I’m more than happy and willing to sit down with student groups and drive some sort of legislation to add more Senate seats.”

He said he will begin working this weekend on a constitutional amendment to add more students representing residence halls and student groups.

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