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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Discussion ensues over allocation of funds for International Student Committee at Oct. 3 Senate

Changes to ASUCD elections schedule discussed

Vice President Shreya Deshpande called the Oct. 3 ASUCD Senate meeting to order at 6:16 p.m. Senator Victoria Choi was absent.

The meeting started with the election of a Senate Pro Tempore — the official representative of the Senate. Senator Shondreya Landrum was elected unanimously. She said she tries to make a difference wherever she can and talked about working over the summer to “make sure the association stayed afloat.”

Next, the Senate officially approved the rebranding of ASUCD with another unanimous vote. 

A representative for the Council on Student Affairs and Fees (COSAF) also had to be selected at the meeting. COSAF is one of the 12 Chancellor’s Advisory Committees, which also include the Committee of Staff Diversity and the Committee of Disability Issues. COSAF is meant to “provide a more comprehensive oversight of student fees,” according to its website. Senators were asked to volunteer to be the representative and, after a period of silence, Landrum volunteered.

The $15,363,565 budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year passed after a lengthy argument over one line item. A representative for the International Student Committee was present to ask for an allocation of $500 over the course of Fall and Winter Quarters. Esra Hawsawi, the chair of the committee, advocated for its need for a budget. She said the money would be used for workshops meant to teach international students about their rights on campus. The committee has not previously received any money from ASUCD, as they were formed in the winter of 2018. 

Hawsawi explained that UC Davis is “the most diverse university in the country” and that much of that diversity comes from its large international student population.

 “The needs and issues we face are not catered to because we don’t have representation,” Hawsawi said.

She also explained that many international students are not aware of their rights on campus, using the fact that they may not know if they are allowed to participate in a campus protest as an example. Filip Stamenkovic, the newly confirmed Business and Finance Commission chair, questioned the concern that international students need to worry about their rights since they have a visa. Senator Tony Chen, the only international ASUCD Senator, responded by telling a story about a friend of his who was deported and had his visa terminated after getting a DUI. 

“Things are a bit different for international students compared to domestic students … when it comes to violating rules,” Chen said later via email.  

Deshpande then mentioned that international students also pay into ASUCD’s base fee and have problems that need to be solved. She brought up the WeHousing scandal that occurred in May as an example.

Stamenkovic, along with Senators Maya Barak and Andre Spignolio, expressed a desire to see an itemized budget before the allocation of any funds. He advocated for a senate bill instead of “blindly throwing money to them.”

Shelby Salyer, the External Affairs Commission chairperson, explained that their Commission also holds workshops and are not asked to itemize their budget and Kevin Rotenkolber, the ASUCD controller, explained that there is a filtering process for the money. 

The money Hawsawi was asking for came from the Senate reserves, which is money that has not already been allocated elsewhere. Stamenkovic explained that he advocated for the International Student Committee to secure funding through a spending bill because that is normally how funds are allocated from the Senate Reserves. 

“This gives the Business and Finance Commission and Senate a chance to review the spending by line items and to make sure that spending is appropriate and transparent,” Stamenkovic said via email. “In this case, there did not seem to be clear spending objectives.” 

In the end, the Senate voted to give the International Student Committee $250 for Fall Quarter with plans to review a request for additional allocations in the winter. With that, this year’s budget was passed.

Last, senators voted to pass Constitutional Amendment 59, which changes when ASUCD elections are held. Currently, elections are held during the seventh week of Fall and Winter quarters. President Justin Hurst’s amendment proposed that the Winter Election be moved to Spring Quarter. This gives newly-elected senators more time to become familiar with the association before they have to pass a budget and it would also match the schedule of other UCs. As a result, senators expected to leave office during the winter would have to consider staying an extra quarter. Deshpande encouraged these senators to do so. 

If the amendment did not pass, Rotenkolber conveyed “fear for the future of the association,” recalling that he was only given 28 days to learn the budget before it had to be done. The amendment passed without objections.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:16pm.

Written by: Andrea Esquetini— campus@theaggie.org

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year was $472,225. That is incorrect. The actual budget is $15,363,565. The Aggie regrets the error.


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