ASUCR to allocate $40,000 annually for student basic needs

ASUCR – Courtesy of ASUCR

ASUCR held their second meeting of the quarter on Wednesday, April 7. The senate approved two resolutions that will support UCR’s commitment to 100% clean energy and implement American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf culture classes into UCR’s curriculum. They also approved a senate bill that will permanently allocate $40,000 for student basic needs every year. 

During public comment, many students and members of CALPIRG expressed their support for SR-S21-004 Support for 100% Renewable Energy at UCR. The students cited the California wildfires and Riverside’s poor air quality as signs of the damaging effects climate change can have on the planet and urged the senate to vote yes on the resolution. 

In 2018, former California governor Edmund G. Brown signed Senate Bill 100 (SB100) which sets a 100% clean electricity goal for the state by 2045. CALPIRG is urging California to accelerate SB100 to 2030 and they are calling on UCR to not only commit to clean electricity but also to 100% clean energy sector-wide. The resolution passed with a vote of 13-0-0 and ASUCR will soon host a 100% renewable energy town hall inviting campus administration and elected officials to discuss the priorities of committing to 100% renewable energy on campus

Derrian Tabilin, the advisor for the ASL club at UCR, presented the next resolution to the senate which advocates for the implementation of ASL and deaf culture courses that fulfill language requirements at UCR. Tabilin stated that Riverside is recognized as a national and international deaf hub as the greater Los Angeles area and surrounding counties are home to over 8000,000 deaf and hard of hearing people. A petition started by the ASL Club over one year ago has received nearly 3,000 signatures. The resolution passed through the senate with a vote of 13-0-0 and moving forward, members of the senate and Tabilin will meet with the CHASS Executive Committee to discuss implementing these courses at UCR in the Department of Comparative Literature and Languages. UCR would follow schools like UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and UC Davis who have already implemented ASL courses into their Linguistics departments.

SB-S21-003 Financial Support of Basic Needs Act allocates $40,000 from the president’s budget yearly in order to provide assistance for students facing food insecurity, housing insecurity, internet issues and to help them pay for necessities such as utilities. The allocation mirrors a “block grant” as is provided by the U.S. federal government which gives groups flexibility on how the allocated funds should be spent. Some of the methods, explained President Pro Tempore Orlando Cabalo, may be through grocery store gift cards or by cosponsoring events with basic needs groups on campus such as The Well.

ASUCR Executive Director Laurie Sinclair raised some concerns about the bill stating that budget allocations should fall solely under the Office of the Vice President of Finance and that the allocation may be restraining for upcoming senates who may want to allocate their funding to other purposes. Sinclair also stated that the funds were previously used to fund R’Gear every year, ASUCR’s annual free sweatshirt drive that was halted last year due to the pandemic. It is unclear whether R’Gear will be permanently removed from the president’s budget. Despite her concerns, the bill received support from the senate and was passed with a vote of 13-0-2. 

During her announcements, Executive Vice President (EVP) Natalie Hernandez announced the senator of the month for March, Lizbeth Marquez Torres. “Senator Marquez Torres is a significant factor in the representation for undocumented students through passing and following through various legislations, incredibly hardworking, she puts in all her effort into every task she does and ensure she carries it out to the best of her abilities,” stated EVP Hernandez. 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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