The Associated Student Senate reported 11 vacant seats during its first meeting for the spring semester.
Five of the 11 vacant seats resulted from involuntary resignations from the newly elected senators.
Lizbeth Mateo held the title Upper Division II senator before she was asked to resign after not attending a mandatory retreat for all appointed senators.
The retreat was scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 11, but she had already made plans to attend a retreat called California Dream Network at UC Davis for that weekend, she said.
Mateo said she has been part of CDN for a year and had held a position in the organization for six months. Her position required her to facilitate some sessions at the weekend retreat.
She had only found out about the A.S. retreat the week before finals, she said.
Mateo went to A.S. President Adam Haverstock’s office a couple of times to explain her reason for not going to the retreat, but he was never in his office, she said.
Mateo decided to send him e-mail, briefly explaining why she couldn’t attend the retreat, but Haverstock replied to the message by saying she had to go and if she didn’t, he would not excuse her, Mateo said.
Mateo was not notified about any type of resignation then, she said.
A few days after the retreat, Mateo said she received an e-mail from A.S. indicating that because she had missed the retreat, which accounted for three unexcused absences, she would automatically be kicked out of the senate.
A.S. policy indicates that if a senate member misses three days, they will be removed from their seat, Haverstock said.
Michael Fruchtman was another senator who also missed the three-day retreat.
Fruchtman had acquired a job that he said would help develop his career as a kinesiology major. The job happened to fall on the same day of the retreat, Haverstock said.
Fruchtman said he tried to get a hold of Haverstock, but was only able to contact him via voicemail.
He decided to explain his situation in a message by saying he was willing to drive to the retreat on Friday, then drive back to his job on Saturday and then go back to the retreat on Sunday, Fruchtman said. He said the message was never returned and Fruchtman went to his job instead.
After the retreat, Hal Ellison, attorney general for A.S., notified senators of their removal. Fruchtman did not contact Haverstock about his removal, as he knew rules were rules, he said.
Mateo also contacted Haverstock and in an informal meeting, explaining in detail her position on why she didn’t attend, she said.
Haverstock is the only one that can appoint senators and he reappointed Mateo, she said.
At the same time, Haverstock called back Fruchtman and had a talk with him and decided to reappoint him as well, Fruchtman said.
Even though Haverstock reappointed Mateo, the senate has to vote to make it official, Mateo said. The same applies to Fruchtman.
Mateo and Fruchtman had reasonable circumstances, Haverstock said.
What Haverstock did not consider a reasonable excuse for not going to the retreat was the justification of visiting family.
If visiting family is first priority for them, and A.S. is second, they are free to choose, Haverstock said.
The three other former senators, David Zusman, Aliya Choudhery and Cindy Von Quednow, chose to visit family instead of going to the retreat, said Haverstock.
Von Quednow had planned a trip to Florida with her family and the first weekend of the trip fell on the same day as the A.S. retreat, she said.
The motive she gave Haverstock seemed more like a vacation than something reasonable, Haverstock said.
After New Year’s Day, Haverstock told Von Quednow she couldn’t be in the senate and she didn’t try to convince him otherwise, she said.
He finished by adding that it would be easier if Von Quednow to sent him an e-mail with her letter of resignation, she said.
Von Quednow is a Sundial staff reporter.
The empty seats are not really an epidemic as they are made out to be, Haverstock said.
It is better to have five quality senators than have all seats filled, Haverstock said.
The other six seats have been vacant even after the elections last semester, he added.
On Tuesday, Jan. 29, Mateo received a senate seat as Upper Division II and Fruchtman as At-Large Senator III at the meeting.