ASUCR held its weekly meeting last Wednesday, May 23. Here are the highlights:
- Acknowledgement of indigenous lands … CHASS senator Grant Nakaoka proposed that a statement be made at every meeting that recognizes and shows respect to the Native American tribes that once lived on the land that UCR was built on. CNAS Senator Matt Shashaty did not think the statement would be necessary and proposed that a plaque of the statement be made instead. Nakaoka argued that the plaque would not have the same impact as making the statement at every meeting. The bill passed 7-2-0.
- Solidarity with campus organizations … Four bills were considered during the meeting which aim to support on-campus communities.
- The first bill (SR S18-008) … was introduced by CHASS senator Roy Tongilava who proposed that ASUCR recognize the Pacific Islander community as an individual group, pointing out that the ethnicity has been “aggregated” into the Asian category at UCR under “Asian-Pacific Islander (API).” Only 0.2 percent of UCR students are Pacific Islander, but are mixed in with the 30.4 percent of Asian-American students and as a result lose representation as an individual race and also lose out on campus resources. The vote passed unanimously 11-0-0.
- The second bill (SR S18-009) … was proposed by Nakaoka, who asked that a solidarity statement be made between ASUCR and Costo Hall. He noted that the motion itself was symbolic in nature but nevertheless would help mend the rocky relationship ASUCR has with the Costo Hall. This seems especially relevant after the failure to pass the Highlander Empowerment Referendum during the UCR elections, which would have provided funds to UCR’s Ethnic and Gender Programs. The bill passed 8-0-1.
- The third bill (SR S18-010) … was presented by CNAS Senator Priyanka Garg. She stated that Costo Hall only had one area for all Asian communities to meet and found that this was not enough space. Garg proposed that a separate office be created in Costo Hall for the South Asian Programs, which would serve students with backgrounds in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Tongilava commented that this may spark the creation of offices for other individual ethnicities as well. The vote passed unanimously 9-0-0.
- The fourth bill (SR S18-011) … was proposed by CHASS senator Semere Mengistu and aims to help African Student Programs and their efforts to improve the attendance and retention of students of African descent at UCR. The vote passed unanimously 9-0-0.
- Gender inclusivity at Rivera Library … CHASS senator Marco Ornelas proposed that a men’s bathroom in the Rivera library be redesignated as a bathroom for all genders in light of a conversation he had with Nancy Jean Tubbs, the director of the LGBT Resource Center at UCR. Nancy identifies as a woman but told Ornelas that she has issues using bathrooms in public because she “looks like a man,” as Ornelas said during the meeting. The bill passed 7-1-2, where Shashaty gave the only opposing vote, referring to “a lot of different (difficult) situations across the country” involving people of different genders in the same bathroom. He emphasized potential discomfort people may feel as a result of such occurrences.
- ASUCR’s need-based scholarship … Vice president of external affairs Jonathan Li noticed that there was no need-based scholarship given out by ASUCR and in turn proposed the creation of the Highlander Pride Scholarship Committee to handle and disperse the scholarship accordingly. $6,000 have been gathered for the scholarship so far, but nothing will be given out until $25,000 has been collected. ASUCR will contribute 5 percent of non-student fees to this scholarship every year. The bill passed unanimously 9-0-0.
- ASPB stipend cap removed … In the past, the stipend of the Associated Students Program Board (ASPB) could not exceed that of ASUCR’s. CHASS senator Mariam Al-Khalili found that it was unfair for the pay rate of ASPB to be dictated by ASUCR’s, since their operations are fundamentally different. The bill passed 9-0-1.
- A committee for indigenous students … To assist indigenous students on campus, Nakaoka proposed that an “Indigenous Student Task Force” be created with the intention “to promote access, opportunity, and retention efforts for the indigenous/American Indian/Native American/First Nation students to succeed.” The bill passed unanimously 10-0-0.
- Senate reports …
- Concerning any opposition he had to any of the bills, Shashaty explained that he was not speaking only for himself but also for people on campus that “think like him.” Shashaty said, “I like to focus more on individuals, and if that makes me come off in any way negative, I don’t see a need to apologize.”
- Ornelas apologized for a comment he made in the Highlander last week feeling as though it sent out a misconstrued message that “ASUCR doesn’t do anything.” The comment was made in the context of lowering the stipend of ASUCR from its current level of $9,900, which he said he supports. “I don’t think that anybody in ASUCR does nothing and I don’t think that nobody should get paid,” Ornelas said.
- Nakaoka apologized for his comments in an article from that same issue last week, which he believed gave the impression that he did not support the Highlander Empowerment Referendum, which he actually supports fully, and that he was slandering Costo Hall and ASUCR in their current feud of interests. “Why would I shame two of the groups that I’m very proud to be a part of?” Nakaoka said. He claimed that the confusion was due to the condensing of his interview by the article’s writers.
The next ASUCR meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 23 in the senate chambers located in HUB 221.