International students are now allowed to vote and participate in ASUCR elections after the approval of an amendment to Chapter VII of the ASUCR bylaws. The amendment was introduced on Feb. 5 and was authored by CNAS Senator Barry Liu, Elections Director Lama Yassine and International Student Committee Chair Cristina Chen, alongside CNAS Senator Lina Nguy.
Chapter VII of the ASUCR bylaws regards polling places, voting, regulations and procedures. The bill was changed from “Voting is not open to international students as they do not pay the ASUCR fee and are not considered valid members of the Associated Students” to “Voting is available to all matriculated, undergraduate international students as they pay the ASUCR fee and are considered members of the Associated Students.”
Previously, international students were not able to participate in campus elections at UCR as there was a misconception that they did not pay the ASUCR fee that all undergraduate students are required to pay. After discovering that international students do in fact pay the fee, the amendment was introduced to rectify the error.
CNAS Senator Barry Liu, one of the primary authors on the amendment, explained the reasoning behind this amendment. He stated, “I am standing on the International Student Committee this year, and they brought up to me that international students were not able to vote, and (I) thought that that was extremely messed up. They pay more tuition than regular students, have many special circumstances that need representation and are a huge community on campus that have been severely underrepresented.”
He went on to state that, “In addition, I have many friends and colleagues that are international students, so I have a true passion and connection to international students, so when I heard that international students were not able to vote, I was very adamant about changing that.”
Alongside voting, international students are now able to run to hold office in ASUCR. Senator Barry Liu hopes that in the future, this will motivate international students to get involved in ASUCR. “I have introduced a new director position called the International Student Director, which will oversee all international student activities and represent international students in ASUCR. This position will be voted on by students in this coming election and will be in effect by next school year if it is passed,” stated Liu.
He added that this will encourage international students to be more active in ASUCR, realize all the tools and resources that they have in ASUCR and increase overall representation in ASUCR for the international student community, a community that he finds has been underrepresented in the past.
Now that international students are able to participate and vote in ASUCR elections, they will receive a forum to address their own specific needs. Liu added that this amendment will hopefully encourage greater student engagement at UCR, moving UCR’s campus towards a more positive experience for all.