ASUCR’s second senate meeting marked by a visit from the chancellor, vice chancellor and provost

Chancellor – Archive / The Highlander

The Associated Students of UCR’s second meeting was called to order on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:31 p.m. in the ASUCR Senate Chamber. All Senators were present, excluding senators Vasquez, Alva, Garcia and Martinez. Motions were then passed to modify the senate meeting minutes to add Green Campus Action Plan, the Finance Committee and the previous week’s meeting minutes to the agenda. 

Following this, Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brian Hayes and Provost Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Watkins took the stand, introduced themselves and began to speak, primarily addressing the re-opening of campus and their goal to ease restrictions in order to return to normalcy. In addition, many changes were also noted by the chancellor and provost, including the start of the Campus Finance Committee and the Safety Task Force, as well as the reopening of the HUB. The vice chancellor also acknowledged his appreciation for the improvements to technology on campus. 

Senators were then welcomed to ask any questions they may have for the chancellor or provost. CHASS senator and president pro-tempore, Orlando Cabalo, inquired about the R’Garden and whether or not operations will continue after 2022. Their response to his question included a reassurance that the R’Garden will remain open for the coming future due to being an invaluable part of the campus, despite changes to funding overtime. Their discussion of funding also had them touching upon the Redlining protest that occurred earlier that day  The chancellor voiced his support of the protest and stated that he will look into the details of the budget. He also explained that these budget cuts were due to the state having funding challenges and that all universities dealt with these budget cuts due to losses in revenue. “Part of the job is to make as much money as we can,” stated Chancellor Wilcox as he explained how real progress can be made through restoring funding. 

The next question that was asked brought discussions on academic success and mental health and asked how students would be supported with the return to in-person learning. Chancellor Wilcox responded by assuring that students would be supported throughout the transition and many changes have been already implemented. Funding was increased for undergraduate programs and technology, and proposals have been made for specific programs that will benefit students. 

CNAS senator Rachel Paredes then asked her question, concerning online learning and students who are unable to come to campus due to the housing shortage. Primarily, she inquired about the implementation of remote learning. The chancellor and provost explained that they decided to leave these decisions up to the faculty. However, they believe that there should be more flexibility with the availability of remote learning and hope to see further implementation soon. 

The final question was asked by School of Public Policy senator Arleth Flores Aparcio, where she asked if there will be a system to alert students about a spread or outbreak of COVID-19. Chancellor Wilcox began his reply by acknowledging the recent news that 95% of students have been vaccinated. He explained that there’s already a system in place to alert faculty, where if someone tests positive, Environmental Safety handles this by closing and cleaning any classrooms where the sick student or staff member may have been in. According to the chancellor, contact tracing is also considered to be ineffective in preventing a spread as catching up to the spread is difficult. Vice Chancellor Hayes chimed in as well to emphasize the importance of the Daily Wellness Check and urged students to complete it on a daily basis before arriving on campus. Provost Watkins hoped that students would be honest by not coming to campus if they felt sick and stated that there would not be any consequences for being unable to attend class. This forum was then concluded by Provost Watkins thanking the UCR School of Medicine for taking serious steps to make campus safe for students and along with Chancellor Wilcox and Vice Chancellor Hayes, thanking the Senators for their time and ambition. 

In addition, a report was made by the California Public Interest Research Group describing their activities for the past couple years. Campus organizer Isaac Lee began to detail CALPIRG’s mission for social change and their collaboration with ASUCR for their transition to clean energy. ASUCR President William Wang appreciated CALPIRG’s efforts through a shoutout. 

After this report, a Public Forum was held where each senator was allowed three minutes to give a report for their respective committees. Several pieces of legislation were reviewed by the ASUCR body, and all bills and resolutions were approved with a vote of 14-0-0. The meeting was then adjourned at 8:12 p.m.

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