Mata Elangovan / The Highlander

In the 24th meeting of the year, the Associated Students of the University of California,
Riverside (ASUCR) passed two Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP) grants to support the local R’Garden and expand upon sustainability measures through Basic Needs. Following this meeting, an emergency meeting was held by the upcoming Senate to hold Special Elections for the positions of Elections Director, President Pro Tempore (PPT), School of Education (SOE) Senator, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) Senator and Elections Director. 

When discussing two programs, senators debated sustaining and maintaining a grant to support the R’Garden and plans to further expand upon the sustainability measures through Basic Needs. The R’Garden is a sustainability initiative that was created to promote the growing and consumption of local produce, along with teaching environmental consciousness, they have produced over 3,500 pounds of produce every year for the past three years. The Basic Needs GCAP legislation would consist of taking extra food leftover from the dining halls and redistributing it at the Basic Needs facility, instead of being directly disposed of, passing it out to students who are struggling with food insecurity. This program would apply solely to the dining halls. Both grants were approved in a vote of 11-0-0. 

The Senate then reviewed the 2024-2025 budget for the school year, and discussed the allocation of spending within the different lines of the budget. Executive Director Asha Nettles explained that this was because not all vice presidents and their respective committees meet on a weekly basis. With that in mind, the money was reallocated to committees that meet more often. Further concerns were brought up about certain aspects of the budget, particularly in regards to a $3000 increase in retreat expenses; however as it was added to cover for the addition of seven additional members of the elected body, it was deemed a reasonable expense by the finance committee and the executive vice president. After all concerns were addressed, the motion to close the ASUCR 2024-2025 budget was passed 13-0-0. 

After the regular senate meeting adjourned, the emergency meeting of the new Senate launched into their evaluation of candidates for open ASUCR positions: a SOE Senator, a CNAS senator, Elections Director and a PPT. 

Adam Ramirez was appointed to the position of SOE Senator, and in his speech promised to use his experience as Fellowship Director at the ASUCR Office of the President as well as his familiarity with ASUCR to better improve upon school finances and its relationship with education as a whole. When asked how he would protect the quality of education at UCR, Ramirez described tackling issues with accessibility in regards to textbooks and the rising cost of living, taking into account decreasing amounts of financial aid along with rising tuition costs. Elaborating further on how he would approach the new budget for the upcoming school year, Rameriez also explained a goal of his would be to allocate resources towards services that seek to lessen the financial burden of students by allocating more resources to programs like Basic Needs and creating more on campus jobs for students to apply for.

Winning the seat for CNAS senator, Leila Haidar made a return to the Senate for her second term. In her speech to the Senate, Haidar emphasized the departments that she worked with in the past year in order to bring about change on campus. Highlighting groups such as UCR Transportation Services, Americans with Disabilities Compliance Office, and residence halls regarding projects such as commuter parking lots, accessibility audits, accessibility features in campus, housing and research expositions. She also explained how she plans on continuing work on existing projects such as improving communication with CNAS in regards to academic advising. This would involve working to implement a system in which students within CNAS and eventually all colleges of UCR could fill out an IEVAL for their respective advisors to evaluate their performance. 

Nominated by Judicial Council, third year public policy major Kevin Arizmendi was approved by the Senate for the position of Elections Director for the 2024-2025 school year. Arizmendi explained that his three main goals for elections in the upcoming school year would be to implement ranked choice voting, have the elections committee active year round and to create more awareness regarding the elections committee and ASUCR in general. Arizmendi explained that being able to only vote for a single candidate for every position limits voters’ options, saying that implementing a ranked choice system allows for a more representative vote, as well as removing the belief that their vote doesn’t matter. Arizmendi also noted a major point of interest to him was to spread awareness and provide information regarding voting for upcoming local elections as well as the 2024 United States Presidential Election. 

Determining who would fill the role of PPT was tabled to the following week’s ASUCR meeting, passing 8-2-1. 

The regular meeting began at 7:07 p.m., was adjourned at 7:54 p.m. and broke for a recess prior to the emergency meeting. The emergency meeting began at 8:17pm and ended at 11:50 p.m. For ASUCR’s 24th meeting, Senators Ray Khan, Kaden Ho, Roshan Kannan and Crystal Toral were excused and Senators Teesha Sreeram and Rachit Shah joined late. For the emergency meeting CHASS senators Justin Ibay and Karen Vo and CNAS senator Anthony Ching were absent.