Tensions flare during ASUO Senate meeting Wedneday night
The “social host” ordinance and the confirmation of a new Constitution Court Justice were among the most tense discussions during Wednesday night’s Senate meeting.
Representatives from the Eugene City Council, including Mayor Kitty Piercy, presented their interpretation of the social host ordinance to the body and responded to dozens of questions generated from the body.
The body looked to clarify a number of issues that have been brought up about a recent draft of the ordinance.
“If you are not associated with hosting it, and one of your roommates hosts the party, you would not be responsible for the party,” said Michael Kinnison, Eugene’s Neighborhood Program manager.
An earlier draft stated that the owner would be held responsible for any unruly gathering held within their owned dwelling, but the City Council amended the clause.
Kinnison also wanted to clarify that Eugene is not the only place that would have a type of ordinance protecting the community from unruly gatherings.
“This ordinance is not unique to Eugene. I think there are 150 other laws in place in other cities and counties,” Kinnison said.
Piercy asked the body to put themselves in the shoes of other community members and try to understand the frustration that has built up over the years.
“We value you students very much, you are a huge part of who we are … But at the same time, we have these neighborhoods around the school … South University, Amazon and Fairmont are all feeling pressure,” Piercy said. “People are worried about their livability, and wondering if they can actually live there anymore.”
City Council member Alan Zelenka assured the body that only a small percentage of students would be affected by the ordinance if it were passed.
“This is sort of the 90-10 law, where only 10 percent of the population is causing a problem,” Zelenka said.
The representatives talked through a number of issues such as student enrollment rising, the vagueness of the ordinance and even walked through some extreme hypothetical scenarios. To most cases the representatives voiced their opinions that the ordinance would still only affect a small percentage of students who are acting irresponsibly as defined by their neighbors and community members.
Most senators were upset about the ordinance, voicing that it would unfairly target students.
“I know it is supposed to be the 90-10 rule, but as it’s written, it’s not. I know its intention is to stop these unruly parties but right now it would include a lot of people,” said Sen. Lamar Wise.
After the City of Eugene representatives left, former Sen. Kaitlyn Lange presented to the body pleading the body to think critically and logically about the issue.
“I just think that sometimes as a leader it can be really hard to do something that you think your constituents aren’t going to like,” Lange said. “Just ask yourself, ‘Am I doing this for the right reasons?'”
More tensions surfaced during the ConCourt confirmation of sophomore Caleb Huegel. Senators across the body voiced that Huegel was more than qualified for the position, having an astonishing GPA in high school and working in a clerk’s office for two years after interning for one.
Despite these qualifications some senators had issues with confirming Huegel because of his role as president of College Republicans and a sentence in his application that said he wanted to assist the student government administration We Are Oregon.
“You also said that you wanted to help the administration which is the opposite of what we want on ConCourt just from an objectivity standpoint,” Sen. Ben Bowman said.
Huegel responded by clarifying that he had never volunteered for the We Are Oregon campaign, he merely voted for the slate.
“I believe there are two paths to assist an administration. There is a direct way to help the administration pass policy. There is also an indirect way that would assist the administration by upholding those policies,” Huegel said.
ASUO President Laura Hinman as well as other senators who worked for We Are Oregon confirmed to the body that Huegel had never worked for the campaign.
Sen. Taylor Allison emphasized that Huegel only voted for the campaign and that she had never met him while campaigning which received an affirmative response from the body. She also mentioned that Huegel was being extremely transparent and honest with the body, clarifying everything that the Senate asked of him and was not trying to hide anything from the body.
Senate President Matthew Miyamoto informed the body that he was the one that had recommended Huegel should get involved in the ASUO but never recommended that Huegel should apply for a specific position.
During discussion, senators Miyamoto, Hedlund and Acoba reminded the body to refrain from any offensive or insulting remarks. All three refrained from using specific examples but referred to aggression towards the City Council representatives and Huegel. While most senators agreed to this statement a few also asked for Huegel himself to refrain from aggressively defensive comments.
At the end of much discussion Huegel was confirmed by a vote of 8-7-1 with Sen. Will Steiner being the one abstention.
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