A Patriotic Victory: The Flag Remains at ASUCD Meeting
Deborah Porter, Foreign Policy Contributor
In a surprising act by current ASUCD President Josh Dalavai, Senate Bill 76 was vetoed rather than signed into law. UC Davis made headlines nationwide when its Senate voted 7-2-3 to leave the flag’s display to the mercy of the Senate Pro Tempore, who is elected by the senators each quarter. Instead the bill becoming law through Dalavai’s signature as expected, the flag was visibly displayed at the Senate meeting a week later. Outside of the room, a lone police officer stood guard, assuring that the meeting would go smoothly.
t the meeting last night, President Dalavai stated that he had vetoed the bill, and that the issue would be fully addressed next week. Surprisingly, not a word of protest was voiced. All the senators who had voted yes on the bill just a week earlier did not call Dalavai out on his changed statement, nor did they produce outrage at the flag’s presence. The audience, perhaps out of shock or apathy, also did not comment on Dalavai’s veto.
Why did Dalavai veto the bill, when he so vehemently claimed that the bylaw was illegal, even later correcting his statements? The facts conclude only three options: one, Dalavai felt that the bill needed improvement, two, he was pressured to veto the bill, or three, he actually meant to veto it all along. Options 1 and 3 are infeasible, because if Dalavai was acting on his own, the Senate would be outraged at his actions and demand an explanation, as well as plan to overturn the veto. The Senate’s silence on the matter indicates that some deal was established behind closed doors in order to move past this bill.
What possibly could have forced the university, or perhaps the Senate, to ask Dalavai to veto the bill in a way that he would be inclined to listen? Not a single argument by the Senate or the audience members swayed him; when he left the meeting, he was going to veto the bill. So, the media coverage of the bill must have influenced someone with influence on Dalavai, or he himself was influenced by the arguments presented. In my opinion, there are two methods that Dalavai could have been convinced to veto, and then convinced the senators to unanimously remain silent on the issue.
The first method is that the UCD legal team announced that the bill was not illegal, i.e. that the flag could be compulsory at each meeting. In last week’s meeting, the ASUCD controller stated that the legal counsel had not yet responded. Dalavai, seeing the bill passed on false pretences, could have asked the Senate to re-discuss and re-vote on the bill next week. However, many of the senators seemed to oppose the bill outside of the legal argument, with senator Daniel Nagey stating that he would pass it regardless of its legal status. Since the legal counsel was not present, and Dalavai did not mention them in his statements at last night’s meeting, the logical conclusion is that this is not the current situation.
The only logical alternative is that Dalavai was pressured by the university to veto the bill, due to the negative media attention it was receiving. This would explain the silence of the senators, as they would also feel the pressure of the university, and be inclined to stay silent, especially with a TMR contributor ready to video their remarks. When the story broke, many people called for the withdrawal of federal funding, taking to Twitter and comment sections to voice their disapproval. Tucker Carlson notes that two senators “backed out [of an interview] at the last minute,” likely at the behest of the university, since they had initially agreed.
Interestingly enough, the university previously told Campus Reform “This a Student Senate bill that the Student Senate [voted] on...is a student effort and student decision, and not an administrative one.” However, that was the first news source to talk about the incident, and thus the university was not hit with the backlash of multiple news stations condemning the vote. However, there’s no way to be entirely positive on any one conclusion, unless someone starts talking.
In my opinion, having been a UC Davis student for almost 4 years now, the administration wanted to cover up the bad news, and did it through pressuring the Senate, rather than condemning the actions of the senators. In the past, Davis spent $175,000 to cover up the pepper spray incident, and purposefully misled the media in order to portray a better image of the campus. In a story on Berkeley’s riots, I noted that UC Davis fails to enforce drinking age regulations, which also falsely props up their image on student lawlessness. With Picnic Day tomorrow, the administration obviously wanted this news story to die, since Picnic Day is one of the most popular days for donors to visit the school. Funding is a powerful motivator.
Follow this author on Twitter @UCDavisEngineer
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