ASUCR discusses proposed tuition increases by the UC Regents and changes to in-person commencement

On Wednesday, May 5, ASUCR held their sixth meeting of the quarter as well as their monthly State of the Association. Vice President of External Affairs Vincent Rasso reflected on the events his office held and participated in during the month of April. Some of those events had a focus on civic engagement, such as their Ward 2 Candidate Forum hosted by Clarissa Cervantes and Aram Ayra, both candidates who are running on a platform that includes representing UCR students in the Riverside City Council, according to Rasso.

During his updates, Rasso also discussed his interest in having his office become more involved in the Intercollegiate Council of the Inland Empire in order to be able to collaborate with student government and organizations across all campuses near UCR.

Rasso added that on April 28, the UC Student Association was briefed on the UC’s proposal to increase tuition through a cohort based model. The new tuition model has been in discussion for many years and was expected to be voted on last May before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a cohort-based tuition plan, the university would seek to keep tuition flat for students while they are enrolled at UC, with any change in tuition applying only to incoming cohorts of new students. Last year’s model would exempt current UC students from future tuition increases but would raise costs for California residents in the incoming freshman class of fall 2020 by $606, or 4.8%. That group’s tuition would remain unchanged for six years, and the next four incoming classes would see additional hikes and freezes.

The Office of the Vice President of Internal Affairs has continued to host events surrounding wellness and mental health. The office is also currently working on possibly providing a grad prep course for students over the summer in the form of a giveaway through an initiative to support students with goals to continue their education after UCR.

Elections Director Lama Yassine also reflected on a successful 2021 ASUCR elections week. She added that the voter turnout was 14.1% and that her office is currently working to update the ASUCR elections code. 

ASUCR President Luis Huerta mentioned meeting with CHASS Senators Alyssa Marchan and Juan Morales, along with the Commencement Working Group, to discuss updates and recommendations for an in-person commencement ceremony. On Friday, May 7, Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox announced that in addition to the limited in-person ceremony that was announced in April, UCR will now permit graduates two guests tickets for commencement. Graduates are to remain with their guests at all times and will also walk across the stage with them and join for a professional photograph. Commencement activities will also be live-streamed for family and friends to watch online.

Senator Marchan discussed a recent issue regarding UCR’s Underground Scholars Initiative. The organization, which creates a pathway for formerly incarcerated and system impacted individuals into higher education, was recently awarded $118,500 from the UC Berkeley chapter for having the highest population of formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students on campus. However, Marchan stated that after 20 days, the administration at UCR has not responded to their requests to discuss the funds. Marchan stated that the money needs to be allocated within UCR’s budget before May 28, otherwise the award will be lost. Marchan encouraged her fellow senators to discuss the issue in upcoming meetings with administrators.

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