As you might have noticed, I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the ASUC. On the other hand, I don't hate it. Indeed, it serves a very important purpose on campus by distributing funds for student groups. I have benefited personally from ASUC funds that have been invaluable to student groups I have been a part of. So I agree with its purpose.
However, there is a serious problem of lack of oversight in the ASUC. Once upon a time (3 years ago) there were several blogs that kept an eye on the ASUC from all over the ideological spectrum (Beetle, Cal Stuff, and the predecessor to this blog just name name a few). Before we relaunched this blog, there were zero. Granted the Daily Cal occasionally digs stuff up, but they rely on the ASUC to lower their rent and thus are fundamentally not independent. As a result, the ASUC has felt that there has been no one watching their day to day activities and thus there have been some disturbing abuses of power over the past couple of years. So we are here not to villainize the ASUC but hopefully to keep them focused on their two main missions, distributing student activities funds and advocating for the student body on issues that affect us as a group (for example, fighting fee increases, not divesting from Israel).
In accordance, I wanted to take the time as the school year begins to highlight some individuals within the ASUC who are doing a good job and deserve a shout out. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Executive Vice President Nanxi Liu. The EVP's main job is presiding officer of the Senate. While time will tell whether we can avoid the 13 hour meets of the past couple of years, it appears Liu is serious about keeping the Senate running smoothly. She's posted several times already on the significantly under-viewed ASUC blog, which she has used to update the general student body about the happenings of the Senate. She hosted by what all accounts was a stellar orientation for the new senate, and sent them several homework assignments over the summer. So there will be no excuse the first time the Senate is caught breaking the by-laws.
Senators who have utilized the ASUC Blog: In the past few years, a big problem with the ASUC has been lack of transparency. The aforementioned ASUC elected officials blog, if it's actually used, should help to fix that. So far six senators - Alabastro, Del Rosso, Freeman, Goldstein, McLeod, and Montouth have posted in addition to Nanxi. The other 14 senators and four execs should get off their rear ends and write something to justify their titles.
Nad Permaul: The real power of the ASUC lies not with the president or the senate, but with the ASUC Auxiliary. Once upon a time this was not the case and students controlled virtually everything regarding student life, including the hiring and firing of the football coach (imagine how long that Senate meeting would take - the Senators would miss the next week of class). Like most quasi governmental organizations however, the student leadership eventually got into the habit of spending beyond its means and by 1997 ran up a huge debt to the university that it simply could not pay off (sound familiar California?). Instead of shutting down the place, the university administration was nice enough to let its operations continue under the new auxiliary organization, essentially a hybrid between the ASUC and the university.
For the past few years, the director of this organization has been Dr. Nad Permaul, also a poli sci and rhetoric lecturer. I've known Nad almost from the moment I set foot on campus two years ago. He cares deeply about the university and its students (he earned his bachelors, masters, AND Ph.D from Cal) but more importantly is an extremely capable administrator. In an association filled with partisan egomaniacs, he has risen above the fray and as the adult in the room has advocated what is in the best interest of the student body, not the vocal minority that seems to dominate the ASUC.
That's all for now, but there will be more to come.