ASUCR: Queer Alliance pushes back against grant revocation

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

ASUCR convened on Wednesday in the senate chambers to pass two resolutions. The first resolution aimed to condemn the Islamophobic, racist and sexist hate crime wherein graduate students offices were vandalized last month. The other sought to improve vegan options for students on campus. Before these resolutions were passed, students from the organization Queer Alliance voiced their contempt for a vote by the Student Initiated Outreach Finance Committee to revoke a grant application that would help fund their 14th annual Pride Prom.

During public comment, about seven students expressed their concern that the Pride Prom, an outreach event geared toward high school students to encourage them to pursue higher education, showcase the LGBT resources offered by UC Riverside and provide a safe space for them to socialize, was not allocated $2,449.50 in funds from a grant that they applied for earlier this calendar year.

Second-year Amber McKeough, who presented the grant at the outreach committee hearing, spoke to clarify their reasoning for revoking the grant, which included a lack of educational materials in the grant and questions as to whether or not Queer Alliance made the educational portion of the event as required. McKeough explained that this year, the educational materials were donated to Queer Alliance and that the educational portion of the event is indeed mandatory for students to attend the dance.

Many other passionate students spoke about how important Pride Prom was to them as undergraduates and also acted as vessels for UCR graduates who were also against the revocation by reading their testimonies aloud. Fifth-year ethnic studies major and former ASUCR outreach director, Jessica Urquidez, also spoke and requested that the outreach committee and the current outreach director, Kevin Chau, make a public apology to the LGBT Resource Center and the students involved in the planning process.

The senate voted unanimously to call for a review of the grant which will then be voted on again during the next outreach committee meeting. The outreach committee could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.

Afterward, the senate passed a resolution that condemned the hate crime committed against UCR graduate students of color and critiqued UCR administration’s response. The resolution stated that the response to the hate crime by Chancellor Kim Wilcox was problematic because it was too general and did not outright condemn the hate crime despite Wilcox condemning anti-immigrant rhetoric used at UC San Diego. It further stated that the email “lacked clarity regarding the violent nature of the event, failed to condemn the tearing down of the Palestinian flag, and did not address any anti-Palestinian or anti-activist rhetoric.”

Among other things, the resolution requested that campus administration “take a proactive stance towards recognizing and condemning hate crimes on our campus and throughout the UC system,” and that the chancellor appoint “a student representative approved by the Diversity Council and by the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion to review and provide input towards all communication from the Chancellor’s office.” The resolution unanimously passed with a standing vote and afterward the senate chambers erupted in applause.

A resolution to expand vegan options on campus as well as initiate a vegan awareness campaign was also passed with a vote of 9-0-1. The resolution aims to create an ad-hoc senatorial committee that will “advocate for the installment of Vegan (sic) products and plant based whole foods” at different food and restaurant locations on campus “in direct proportion to non-vegan foods over a specified time period until equity of vegan foods are met.”
As stipulated in the resolution, ASUCR will host vegan workshops that will seek to dispel misconceptions about the vegan lifestyle and also allow for animals from animal sanctuaries to visit campus as “an attempt for awareness and connection to the fact that these animals are sentient beings who have the right to life.”

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