Student government breaks Brown Act — physical agendas not posted

Lucy Marx and Trevor West Morgan

The Associated Student Government has violated the California Open Meetings Law for the second consecutive week after neglecting to post a physical copy of its agenda.

The Brown Act guides rules for public meetings and requires government agencies to post a physical copy of the agenda “in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public” at least 72 hours before a meeting. 

The senate did post the agenda online 72 hours in advance, but the law also requires a physical copy to allow people without the internet equal access to the information. The senate typically posts the agenda on a case near the meeting room, but it has stood empty for two weeks. 

Associated Student Government President Alexandra Montes De Oca said that the agenda wasn’t posted because no one was available during that time and that someone needs to “step up.” 

“I have class during that time,” she said, explaining why she can’t post the agenda herself. The President or the Vice President of Internal Affairs is normally responsible for posting the document, but with recent senator turnover, it’s been overlooked. 

Rafael Carrillo was appointed as the new Vice President of Internal Affairs at the senate’s Feb. 7 meeting. 

“It’s just having someone who’s physically able to be there,” De Oca said. 

The violation disrupted this Friday’s meeting when Vice President of External Affairs Lucas Perry declined to participate in any vote. 

“In terms of external affairs, I think this is sort of what I’m supposed to do,” said Perry. “Even though it was met with just a little bit of flack, I think it’s important to have that stance.”

The senate was unable to vote on any proposed funding Friday, delaying those decisions until the board can comply with the Brown Act. 

The senate was set to award over $4,000 in club grants and $3,000 for a sustainability hub at the meeting but was unable to take any actions due to Perry’s non-involvement. 

The decision by Perry to not participate caused confusion on how to proceed with the meeting. De Oca was visibly distraught as this occurred.

“I’m still trying to mentally figure out how to process this,” she said.

De Oca immediately suggested adjourning the meeting.

However, Student Program Advisor Chris Johnson proposed that the senate discuss the items on the agenda without voting and that clubs and organizations still share their proposals. 

Clubs ended up presenting their cases but did not receive any money. 

“For me, it was frightening,” said the Precious Plastics Club President Jesse Casey. The Precious Plastics Club requested $3,000 at the meeting for a plastic shredder. 

“I hope I get my funding,” he said. “I think if the first part hadn’t happened, it definitely would have made me more relaxed.”

After the meeting was adjourned, De Oca fought back tears and was comforted by other senators before abruptly leaving, saying that she “had to go to work”.

Despite the senate’s reactions, Perry stood by his decisions. 

“The importance of the Brown Act and other open meetings laws cannot be overstated,” said Sommer Ingram Dean, an attorney for the Student Press Law Center. “It is crucial to the democratic process that the public has access to the people and groups entrusted with making decisions that impact the public.”

The Associated Student Government will reconvene for its next meeting March 5.