ASUCR’s first state of the association meeting of fall quarter convened in the senate chambers on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

After roll call, 2017-18’s ASUCR senators were sworn in, officially beginning their tenure as undergraduate representatives of UCR.

Shortly after, the agenda was approved and officer reports were delivered. Staffs for the Vice President of External Affairs, Parliamentarian Laura Pullen, the Senate Secretary Crystal Schenkel and Associated Students Program Board were approved unanimously.

During public comment, student Priya Biswas delivered a statement on behalf of Edith Macias, the third-year ethnic studies major who has received death threats after a video of her grabbing fourth-year economics major Matthew Vitale’s “Make America Great Again” hat went viral nearly two weeks ago.

Biswas brought light to the doxing (publishing of someone’s private information on public pages of the internet) of Macias, discussed other incidents perpetrated by “alt-right” groups across the UC system and nation as a whole and divulged the mental health toll this incident has taken on Macias. She also urged ASUCR to note the political climate in light of this incident and how it has affected UCR students of Hispanic descent.

Third-year undergraduate Salma Mahmoud also addressed the senate to protest Panda Express’ alleged use of pork fat to cook all of their food in the HUB, considering it fails to account for the Muslim belief that pork is haram, or prohibited from consumption. Mahmoud explained that this is especially problematic for Muslim students considering that most halal options on campus are gone after last year’s closure of Habanero’s, which served halal chicken, to make way for Chronic Tacos. Halal refers to foods that are in accordance with Muslim tradition and can therefore be eaten by Muslims without violating religious law.

“The halal options are gone, which means students who are religiously strict on their diets when it comes to meat (are) limited now on campus,” Mahmoud said. Senator Mariam AlKhalili expressed her opinion on the dietary changes as a Muslim woman saying, “Panda also was another option except they (Panda Express) just recently started to cook everything with pork fat and oil so every meat gets cooked with that.” She continued, “So for students, particularly Muslim students, we are not allowed to eat pork, whether it is the oil or the actual meat, so that really restricts some of the options we have on campus.”

Following public comment, senate reports were delivered, during which all 13 senators in attendance expressed their goals for the upcoming year. These included CHASS senator Marco Ornelas who expressed his hope to foster an atmosphere of freedom of speech by hosting town halls by the Bell Tower; Chass Senator Solomon Demeku proposed his project to rent out umbrellas to students on rainy days and CHASS Senator Roy Tongilava shared his goal to increase student participation in ASUCR and the university.

Executive Vice President (EVP) Carisha Moore also unveiled her plan to institute a sergeant-at-arms, a position under the EVP meant to police senate members and prevent them from texting, talking or doing homework during senate meetings. Moore expressed that she hopes this will “keep you all accountable during meetings because you are all here for the students.”

The meeting was adjourned at 8:06 p.m.

The next meeting will be held in the senate chambers on the second floor of the HUB on Wednesday, Oct. 11 beginning at 6:30 p.m.