Mata Elangovan / The Highlander

The Associated Students of UCR’s fifth meeting of the Spring Quarter was called to order by Executive Vice President Myra Usmani on Wednesday, Apr. 19th, 2023 in the ASUCR Senate Chamber at 7:05 P.M. All senators were present, excluding CNAS senator Kyle Cheng, CHASS senator Andrew Bui, CHASS senator Alex Lu, CHASS senator Jules Yang, and BCOE senator Chloe Au. In addition to the senators, members of the Executive Cabinet were present as well. Motions to approve the agenda were called for and passed 13-0-0.

Public Forum began following this approval and first saw student Marcell Fulop take the stand. Fulop expressed his thoughts on the recent Barnes and Noble proposal and voiced his opposition. He stated that he has never spent more than $300 on textbooks and believes that there are multiple legal ways for students to obtain textbooks, such as library textbook scans and free e-books from the library. He primarily dislikes the fact that the Barnes and Noble proposal is something that students must manually opt-out of, which could confuse incoming freshmen who may think they need textbooks from day one. Fulop suggests that he would support the proposal if it were an opt-in system and if professors sent the information to students as well. HUB Executive Director Brendan O’Brien is open to students posting their thoughts on ASUCR socials and an opportunity for students to talk with Barnes and Noble if they have questions. BCOE Senator Alexander Hunt discussed the concerns raised by Fulop with colleagues, weighing the pros and cons of the proposal.

Nayana Chambers followed Fulop and voiced her frustrations regarding numerous problems she has experienced with the CNAS department at their university. Chambers expressed how all her upper-division classes had been deleted, and they are missing two core classes which they should have taken to graduate this spring. She had no guidance when she transferred, and when she reached out to other CNAS advisors, they were told not to email them again. 

Chambers felt she had been ignored by all the resources they had exhausted, and she explained how this has also been happening to other students. She believes that the administration is tampering with students’ degree audits, and the department is not providing alternatives or informing students when a class is unavailable. Despite only needing two classes to graduate, Chambers cannot wait until spring 2024 to graduate. Furthermore, the professors are not helping Chambers, and they are being punished for providing research as an alternative. Students are signing a petition on to raise awareness about this issue. CNAS Sen. Shah has experienced similar problems and suggests that Chambers attend the CNAS town hall to voice their concern directly to the Dean. CNAS Sen. Abby Choy and SPP Sen. Sean Nguyen also expressed their empathy and interest in helping, while CNAS Sen. Vivek Patel suggested bringing Chambers to the CNAS executive. Myra adds that the course catalog is despised and that the CNAS department is a mess.

Student Connor has been working on developing an app for ASUCR that aims to help students navigate HighlanderLink and easily find information about various clubs on campus. In the past few weeks, he has been seeking support from the ASUCR Senate and has obtained written approval to test the app. Connor plans to release the app to the public since it is branded with ASUCR, but needs further approval from the Senate. PPT Richardson suggested that a resolution be written to address the issue and create an ad-hoc committee to flesh out the details of the app’s implementation. The app has already been tested in another college and has been downloaded by 3,000 students. The app is free, and the only cost is the $70 charged by Google to run the app every month, with the possibility of charging $500 per quarter. While some Senators expressed concerns about the app’s marketing and its potential effectiveness compared to HighlanderLink, Connor plans to test both and see which is more useful.

State of the Association then took place and saw members of the Executive and Extended Cabinet delivering reports that detailed their work and progress throughout the year. President Assaf’s report was presented on her behalf by her Chief of Staff Cooper Proulx, where he discussed R’Gear distribution and collaborations with End Overdose, Bank of America, and TAPs for a discounted parking pass during finals week. EVP Usmani leads the weekly senate meetings and is planning a banquet for elected officials. VP of Finance Martinez gave extra funding for R’Gear and has a contingency of $19. VP CIA Nassar’s report was delivered by EVP Usmani on her behalf. Usmani detailed how Nassar is working on a wellness vending machine, fruit fair, and CalFresh initiatives. VPEA Hearns attended Black Lobby Day and is working on Anti-Blackness modules with Assaf. Marketing & Promo Director Nguyen discussed successful tabling events and upcoming technical skills workshops. Personnel Director Ahluwalia is addressing student concerns and working on Campus Safety Escort Services. First Time Student Director Nguyen partnered with Grocery Outlet for discounts and is working on the Point 2 Point Shuttle Program. Elections Director Trinh found someone to fill the CNAS seats and is addressing email issues. International Student Director Nguyen had weekly meetings and a Family Feud event. President Pro Tempore Richardson passed senate bills and resolutions, updated bylaws, and is communicating with PODER and Amy about reserves due to ASUCR going into deficit.

Following these presentations, one piece of legislation  from the Legislative Review Committee was first discussed as part of Committee Reports. SR-S23-002 Support UCSA Disability Justice Budget Ask aims to increase funds UC wide to extend support and provide additional staffing for disabled students as elaborated by President Pro Tempore Aalani Richardson. Primary Author and ACQUIRE coordinator Joanna Mendez spoke regarding the resolution and explained how disability resources on campus are underfunded and understaffed. Motions to approve the legislation were called and passed 12-0-1.

Finance Outreach Hearing Minutes #4 were then reviewed as part of Finance with a motion to open them by CNAS Sen. Abby Choy and CHASS Sen. Brandon Huang. Finance Hearing Minutes #6 were also reviewed. Three ASUCR officials requested for projects and events. Both hearing minutes were approved by the senate 13-0-0. 

No new business was discussed and three senators followed with reports on the progress of their individual projects. Senator Hunt reported that GCAP Green Grants had passed and that they were editing the legislation related to campus safety. They also mentioned issues related to the town hall and discussed managing the ASUCR funds to resolve the deficit. SOE Senator Leyan Elkatat reported that they received two rewards and spoke about a new possible concentration. They also mentioned that they had passed legislation as both the primary and secondary author and were working on launching an SOE Discord. SPP Senator Sean Nguyen discussed their efforts to assist the personnel committee with the anonymous feedback form and attend finance meetings. They also mentioned that they were meeting with Gupta regarding textbook accessibility issues and had several upcoming events related to Cal Fresh and SPP undergraduate town hall.

Roundtable announcements from senators concluded the meeting. Sen. Elkatat mentioned an upcoming SOE town hall on May 15 at the Senate Chambers with an Amazon giveaway. Sen. Nguyen informed everyone that there will be a registration help session for classes at the African Student Programs on Monday from 12-1. CNAS Sen. Camilia Mohammed announced that there will be a CNAS town hall in the coming weeks. PPT Richardson reminded the senators to submit their legislation by Friday at 9 am and offered them the opportunity to sit in on the LRC meetings. The meeting was adjourned at 8:51 P.M.