Taken by Bryan Tuttle

Ushering in the 2012-2013 academic year, a newly-appointed ASUCR board convened for their first Senate meeting on Oct. 1. Areas of focus included voter registration, ASPB’s Block Party, committee development and initiative reports major actions taken over the summer. The most prominent change to the internal structure of ASUCR included the scheduling of senate meetings, which will now occur on a weekly-basis, on a Monday and Thursday rotation.

“Block Party, we believe, was a success. We had approximately 14,000 to 16,000 folks who turned out,” stated ASPB Chair Timothy Grove. He also mentioned other student-oriented events of that week such as “Scotty Spiritfest,” which encourages greater attendance in athletic events. Another announcement was made by Highlander Editor-in-Chief Chris LoCascio, who promoted an online campus-wide elections poll, which hopes to capture the political voting preferences of UCR students. The results will be released in the last week of October.

Reports were given by the executive cabinet, directors and two additional inquiries during Monday’s senate meeting. President Liam Dow motioned to approve formal senate positions and funding initiatives, which varied from USSA Congress to reserving funds for the senior gift.

Among other topics discussed, President Dow remarked that the closing was a result of Exchange store having become financially unsustainable, due to extreme net losses from the previous year. “Other campuses were faced with similar closings, UCI closed their [student-run] exchange store, but we plan on keeping the space and look forward to new and exciting changes,” he said. Senators later confirmed that the Exchange store was being converted into a voter registration office.

Vice President of Internal Affairs Kevin Jo reported recent GCAP efforts in creating environmentally-sound practices and the restructuring of internal committees. “The joint collaboration between CE-CERT, the Office of Sustainability and ASUCR [involves] a mobile solar power station,” stated Jo. He explained that half of the solar power station’s funding has already been approved and the station may be used during the HEAT concert in winter quarter. Other projects in the works include installing solar terraces for the HUB and solar-powered charging stations in Lot 30.

At the forefront of discussion was a report on the UCSA Board Retreat, USSA Congress and the recent meeting by the Board of Regents. Presented by Vice President of External Affairs Lazaro Cardenas, he stated that a positive turnout of fifty-seven UCR students attended the UCSA Congress on Aug. 17-20. Initiatives during the event included “UCOP Don’t Touch Me,” which seeks to combat an additional tax on student-funded expenditures on UC campuses.

During the USSA Congress, topics of student loan debt, the federal DREAM Act and shared governance with UC students faced further deliberation. With student loan debt exceeding $1 trillion in April, ASUCR lobbied last spring to prevent an increase in the Stafford loan rate, which hovers at 3.4 percent, according to the US News and World Report.

Senator Cardenas relayed that the recent UC Regents’ Board meeting was arranged as a collective forum to discuss alternative cost-saving strategies such as raising the UC non-resident enrollment cap from 10 percent to 15 or 20 percent. “The risk of that is that diversity decreases when you increase out-of-state students [and] right now we have around 30 percent who count as minorities on UC campuses,” he said.

Additionally, he emphasized that the failure of John Perez’s Middle Class Act to pass in the Senate exhibited diminished prioritization for California’s educational system. “The legislative route didn’t really work out for us because we went to the Senate they obviously did not want to fund higher education…however the student voice can be heard through propositions and these initiatives,” stated Senator Cardenas, who later presented a voting video, which consisted of compiled statements from student leaders throughout the UC system.

As a three-year funding commitment between ASUCR and the Student Technology Fee Advisory Committee, students can now print 200 pages per quarter at Watkins hall. The printing quota was initially capped at 40 pages per quarter. Other topics included an online finance video, which is a step-by-step guide that teaches student organizations how to obtain funding from ASUCR. Final senatorial reports included the establishment of a fall outreach committee, which seeks to promote informative conferences and workshops about higher education.

Lastly, ASUCR requested the re-registration of campus election parties, which included Students United, [YOU]CR and R’Voice for the preservation of party names. Student senators can be reached during office hours, in which a schedule has been posted outside of HUB 202.

The next ASUCR meeting will take place on Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m in the Senate Chambers.