The Associated Students of UCR’s 17th meeting took place Wednesday, March 2, both in person and through Zoom, at the ASUCR Senate Chambers. All members of the senate were present, excluding CHASS senators Christian Torres, Blanca Estela Alba, Christian Martinez and CNAS senator Catelin La, who were all excused.

Motions to approve the current meeting’s agenda were called for by Executive Vice President Mufida Assaf with a motion to add Finance Hearing Minutes 15, move the referendum in new business above judicial updates, remove special elections from the agenda and extend the public forum to 10 minutes. The previous meeting’s minutes were then opened and approved. Both passed with a vote count of 11-0-0.

During the public forum, Lance Esquillo, a first-year student from CALPIRG, spoke on behalf of the group stating they just passed their lobby day and are continuing to reduce single-use plastic on campus.

Student Roxanna Vasques, then announced that there would be a social the following day in-person and through Zoom where students could get to know one another and learn about food insecurity. They asked that the senators help promote the event.

Senate Chief Justice Mohammad Almouzzan spoke next, reminding the senators to be polite when speaking on the topic of the athletics referendum.

Christian Valdez, a UCR graduate student with the R’Garden, then spoke discussing their need for more funding. About 37% of the student body face food insecurity and the R’Garden’s production rate has largely decreased due to there being limited resources from the school. This program is only funded through a basic needs grant. Valdez is a volunteer, as a result, and stated that the athletics referendum was supported by administration but a $10 one for the R’Garden was not. He does not want to diminish the importance of athletics but hopes that the referendum for the R’Garden can be reconsidered if the athletics one passes.

New business was introduced next with the presentation of the Referendum: Student Fee Increase Needed to Support The Continuation of an NCAA Division I Athletics Program at UCR and Ensure Equity with Other UC Campuses. The senate chambers audience was filled with members of UCR’s athletic teams in support of the referendum.

Katie Wong, a fourth-year psychology student who spoke at the last meeting, spoke first in support. Wong reiterated that the athletics department is their “second family” and that the current athlete fees cannot keep up with their expenditures. The D1 fee is unable to be paid and the department has had to cut staff and make other accommodations to lower costs. According to Wong, the games provide students with a break and are a positive environment. The referendum would help assist with these problems.

Luis Montanyo, the director of the Student Athletics Committee, spoke next and thanked everyone, including the senators, who came to the basketball game the previous Saturday. Montanyo and the Athletics Committee want to create a good atmosphere for students where the community is able to engage with the university. Without the referendum passing, it’ll take this opportunity away.

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Wesley Mallette, spoke last on behalf of the referendum asking for a formal request to pass it. The current fee of $35 a quarter has not increased in 21 years and the increase to $125 a quarter is greatly needed. In the referendum, it outlines how the money will be used by athletics. Increasing the student fee will adjust budgets so that anyone receiving 100% aid will not have to pay for the fee out of pocket. Mallette ensured that athletics acknowledges the R’Pantry and R’Garden stating that they have volunteered and assisted them in the past. Athletics would like to continue to assist them and all groups that work to reduce and eliminate food insecurity. Mallette has spoken with Dr. Peggy Mauk from the R’Garden on hosting them at games and providing monetary donations if the referendum increase passes.

The opportunity to ask Mallette questions was then opened to the senate.

Senator David Kiroloss asked Mallette to go more into depth on the work being done with athletics and the R’Garden.

Mallette responded that they are meeting with them to find out what their needs are so that they can support them with either annual donations or volunteer support; the meeting is set for March 17. He stated that the two groups are not correlated but athletics would like to be a partner to help reduce food insecurity.

Senator Aalani Richardson asked how athletics was funded the last 21 years without there being a student fee increase.

Mallette replied that athletics is funded through the school, student fees, money from the Big West Conference and NCAA. They landed on this monetary increase of $90 so UCR’s athletics could mimic the same price as other UCs in the Big West Conference. Many of the sports programs have been working in a deficit and athletics wants to be equitable and on par with the other universities. Mallate ended that they plan to be transparent with how the money is spent.

Senator Rachel Parades asked for clarification on what the money funds and where it goes.

Mallette responded that through the fee, $31 goes to undergraduate financial aid. The fee also keeps all games free for undergrad students. Programs like band, dance andd cheer have been cut and would hopefully return with the added money. Athletics also wants to support a women’s success initiative to prepare female athletes for life after college.

Senator Kiroloss asked how students who do not receive financial aid will afford the fee increase.

Mallette stated that about 10% of UCR students do not receive aid and those will then have to cover the fee out of pocket. Over the 10 weeks in a quarter, it will not be a large amount. The student fee was not originally installed properly which is why athletics is now in their current situation. UCR’s fee will still be lower than the other UCs.

Senator Kiroloss then asked how the referendum will affect students not interested in athletics and why they should vote for it.

Mallette responded that no other programs elevate a campus like athletics does. The department creates pride for current students and alumni. When they win games, they receive ESPN and other coverage with results in promotion and recognition for the campus.

Senator Kiroloss asked Mallette to give his word that athletics will assist the R’Garden if the referendum passes.

Mallette replied that they will support them as possible but have been told by the campus that they cannot directly include them in their referendum.

President Pro Tempore Orlando Cabalo then asked if Mallette had an estimate of how much athletics would donate to the R’Garden.

Mallette responded that he did not have that number at the moment and that they will support the program as the campus allows them to.

President Will Wang then spoke stating that the senators are asking several questions about the R’Garden when both programs are important. He feels the senate should not put the burden of the R’Garden on athletics. The focus should be on the athletics referendum and what their program will do.

Senator Dorothy Doronilla spoke next, agreeing that athletics helps increase school spirit and morale. Doronilla asked if a memorandum of understanding with athletics and the R’Garden would be published before the senate elections and be made public to students.

Mallette responded that the MOU depends on how soon both groups can come to an agreement. He clarified that athletics wants to work together although these are separate issues.

Senator Richardson then asked why they are unable to reduce the fee by $22.50 if this money is then given to student aid. Richardson also asked what percentage of student athletes are on a full or partial scholarship.

Mallette replied that the 25% is part of the requirement. The referendum requires that 25% goes back to campus so the $22.50 cannot be removed. He then stated that some student athletes are on full or partial aid and not everyone is on scholarship. The increased fees will also affect student athletes.

Senator Cabalo stated that due to athletics agreeing on assisting the R’Garden, he plans to vote yes to the referendum. Many students are struggling financially and live paycheck to paycheck but with athletics’ support for food security, Cabalo has decided to vote for it to be reconsidered.

Mallette replied that at the games, food and snacks are provided to students as well as t-shirts and other merchandise. The referendum will help continue these services. Students who go to the games receive a meal thus assisting in food insecurity.

Senator Kirolos agreed that it is not the athletics department’s fault as to why Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Brian Haynes told the senate that they cannot have a referendum for the R’Garden. The athletics referendum will be beneficial to both groups and hopefully the senate can pass an official R’Garden referendum in the future.

Motion to rescind the vote from Feb. 2, was then done first by senator Victoria Nguyen and seconded by senator Kirolos. The motion passed with a vote count of 12-0-0.

Senator Nguyen then motioned to move the referendum forward to have a student vote. The motion passed with a vote count of 11-1-0.

Judicial Updates followed with Chief justice Almouzzan announcing that judicial will begin using their council to assist in mediations between students when meeting with admin on non-legal issues. Judicial is also planning a law week with workshops for students interested in the field.

Almouzzan then announced that the judicial branch received a complaint the previous week and are moving forward with the case against Marketing and Promotions Director Wallace Fang for dereliction of duties. If any senators would like to present testimony in favor or against they must submit it in advance, this can also be done anonymously. The next steps are to have an arraignment then a hearing.

The senators were then able to ask Almouzzan questions regarding the complaint.

Senator Cabalo asked if the Judicial Council had decided to send the complaint to the senate.

Almouzzan replied that the constitution is vague and if members of the executive branch file a complaint, it is up to the judicial branch to see if it should move forward to a hearing.

President Wang asked if there is a middle ground between removal or receiving strikes.

Almouzzan replied that the judiciary did discuss strikes and if the senate does not agree, it may lead to sanctions.

Sen Kiroloss asked what the sanction would be.

Almouzzan responded that due to this being unprecedented, the justices need to think of sanctions for this case and future ones.

Sen Garcia asked if it is the decision of the senate to decide the repercussions of the hearing.

Almouzzan responded that the senate would decide.

Sen Richardson then asked what would happen during the arraignment and when senators would learn about the specific details of the case.

Almouzzan replied that there would be an arraignment then a hearing. The senate would vote on how to proceed or punish Fang.

Sen Nguyen stated that in the past the senate has voted on these issues and asked if there is a preferred method of voting.

Almouzzan responded that the senate will enter into closed session for deliberation and can have an open or secret ballot.

Senator Cabalo stated that he does not think a secret ballot would be good and that senators should answer to their constituents.

Committee reports were read next with the opening of Finance Hearing Minutes 14 and 15. During the 14th finance meeting, National Alliance on Mental Illness was allocated $750, Black Student Union $3,500 and Lebanese Student Association $1,208. During the 15th finance meeting, HOSA, the Future Health Professionals, was allocated $908. Both minutes were approved.

Three pieces of legislation were then presented to be approved.

SR-W22-014 Resolution to Publish and Promote the UCR Resource Handbook was presented first. This legislation would publish a survey released in June 2021 and July 2021 that gathered student concerns regarding the transition back to campus. It was approved with a count of 11-0-0.

SR-W22-015 In Solidarity with Ukrainian Students and Student Service Members signifies that UCR is in solidarity with those involved in the war against Russia. This legislation was approved with a count of 11-0-0.

SR-W22-016: Repeal Scooter Ban on Campus would allow private scooter companies, like Lime and Bird, to operate around the campus and be utilized by students. The previous ban of these companies would be lifted. This legislation was approved with a count of 12-0-0.

Senator Reports followed with senator Cabalo announcing that he has worked with the student debt crisis center on creating a national campaign. Cabalo is also working on providing better wages for student workers so that they are paid minimum wage.

No one spoke during public comment.

During the roundtable and announcements, senator Kiroloss spoke encouraging the senators to keep their integrity in regards to the upcoming hearing and to not involve other organizations or outside affiliations.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:12 p.m.