ASUA Notebook 2/26/19: Senators meet to revisit old business
The Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the university’s undergraduate student governing body, met on Wednesday, Feb. 26, to revisit old business, including many of the proposals made last week, with updates on the appropriations budget/committee and movement with the mental health committee.
Revisit of proposals
The first proposal that was visited in old business was last week's Students for Sustainability Fee Referendum, which proposed an $8 fee to go toward student-led sustainability projects. This was proposed to have movement in sustainability projects on campus, since the current way funding is found for these projects is through the Green Fund.
The Green Fund is a tuition carveout that has proved difficult to get money from, according to SFS, and slows further sustainability projects/action on campus. The signatures for the petition are taking longer than expected, which means there is a possibility the referendum will not appear on the March 3-4 general elections ballot, which would call for a special election for the referendum.
If all the signatures required are collected, then the SFS Fee Referendum will appear on the general elections ballot. However, SFS still hoped for senate to pass the referendum and be backed by ASUA while they seek out signatures; it was voted on and unanimously passed.
Along with the SFS Referendum, the PULSE Funding Proposal was once again visited after being tabled last week to see if a better quote could be negotiated. Gomez Ambriz, senator for the College of Medicine, is spearheading the project.
The proposal is the beginning of a larger one the college plans to roll out, this being the start of renovating the basement by funding furniture to create a gathering place. Ambriz was in contact with the college’s purchasing overseer, who said that there is no possible way to lower the quote since the college is required to use a certain vendor for furniture purchases.
“I think you guys should really consider this funding," Ambriz said. "It’s going to impact a lot of students and will really set a precedent for the next Senate to see that they can do grand ideas like this."
However, even with such a high quote, the college offered to match whatever the senate can pay for, which led to voting on amending the proposal to only pay half of the price, $2000, and passing it unanimously. They will revisit it if the college counters this and see what they can do with their remaining senate budget.
Lastly, they revisited the proposal for the Joint Constitutional Reform Committee Proposal to go over it and look over the comments made by College of Public Health Senator Allie Schoenike. The main discussion took place over the biggest change that will be made to the constitution, which if approved would add a house of representatives to ASUA.
Update on appropriations budget
The consent agenda from the appropriations committee’s meeting on Mon., Feb. 24, was gone over at the meeting, with $7,000 being approved for club funding. The appropriations budget is dwindling, as mentioned last week, and it now only contains $400.
This means the appropriations committee may have, for this year, met for the last time or will only meet once more, seeing as they could maybe fund one more request. Even with the allocation of $7,000 worth of funds, the committee could not even fund or fully fund all of the requests made this week. They funded everything they could through the bylaws, around half of what all the clubs asked for, but all the clubs that made requests walked away with something.
Clubs do not always claim what they are funded for, which may fold back in some money for the appropriations committee to use, possibly after spring break. The consent agenda was unanimously passed.
In regards to the fate of the appropriations budget, it has been made clear this problem needs to be resolved for the future senate, especially with the coming implementation of the ASUA house of representatives. The bylaws will need to be amended in several ways. The usage of the ASUA funding for the backed clubs is a positive thing, even though the funding of 365 individual items had left this year’s appropriations budget virtually nonexistent.
“We will need to amend the appropriations bylaws in probably several different ways to prevent this issue happening in future years. … Future proposals may include capping the amount the board can approve," Executive Vice President Bennett Adamson said. "Another would be right now, every individual club registered with ASUA can get up to $5000 a year, and if every club maxed that out, the budget would need to be like $1.5 million, and it’s $225,000, so maybe we just need to drop the cap. So there are all sorts of things we can talk about, it’s just something to think about.”
There will be continued discussion in the upcoming weeks to come to a resolution for the appropriations budget problem.
Mental health committee upcoming action
Senator Schoenike spoke on what is in the works with the recently implemented mental health committee, which she heads. She will be meeting with the Counseling and Psychological Services director of student wellness to talk about setting up vouchers that were talked about as a senate project, which will allow ASUA to hand out vouchers to students for free triage or a free counseling session.
Schoenike will also be participating in the CAPS focus group next week, where she will discuss upcoming improvements in CAPS and students’ mental health concerns, and also gain new information to bring back to the senate and discuss with them. The colleges also will each be having designated life coaches/counselors that will be in contact with Schoenike so she can coordinate among them.
ASUA general elections reminder
ASUA elections will be next week on March 3-4, with results coming out late Wednesday evening on March 4. The presidential debates will be covered on March 2 and will be available online through UATV’s livestream. You can vote starting the morning of Tuesday, March 3, through Wednesday, March 4, and read about the general candidates here, as well as the presidential candidates here. If you’re still confused on voting and ASUA, quick reminders about voting and a basic guide to ASUA are available too.
Follow Maggie Rockwell on Twitter