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Friday, July 19, 2024

Senate approves budget changes in Jan. 19 meeting

More money allocated to Mental Health Initiative Conference, Whole Earth Festival

 

By SYDNEY AMESTOY — campus@theaggie.org

 

The Jan. 19 Senate meeting was called to order by Vice President JT Eden at 6:14 p.m. He called roll and read the UC Davis Land Acknowledgement before getting into the night’s schedule. 

First on the agenda was the confirmation of the DREAM Committee chairperson. Mariam Hernandez Mendoza is a past DREAM committee member and a biological sciences major and has helped conduct scholarship workshops in the committee that raise awareness of resources for AB540 and undocumented students. 

After a round of questions from the Senate, Hernandez was unanimously confirmed.

The Research and Data Committee (R&DC) had 11 nominees for volunteer committee members, who attended the meeting via Zoom. All candidates, except two who could not attend the confirmation meeting, were confirmed unanimously.

The other two candidates for the R&DC were originally virtually confirmed, despite their absence, however, such a move was objected to. The remaining candidates will return for next week’s Senate meeting to be confirmed.

Another DREAM Committee member nominee was virtually confirmed after the R&DC nominations.

The Club Finance Council (CFC) then gave its quarterly report to the Senate. The council, which exists to help fund student organizations, received 16 applications from 15 registered student organizations in 2022. Overall, last year’s funding sent out by the council totalled $12,430 of the ASUCD budget.

The council’s winter quarter application cycle will close on Feb. 17, and the spring quarter application cycle will open on March 27, according to the presentation.

Following the CFC presentation, the Senate moved into public comments.

Senator Stephen Fujimoto announced his plans to host a listening session on Feb. 7 at the CoHo for student workers to voice concerns and comments they might have that the ASUCD Senate can address. 

Following public comments came the Office of the International Student Representative’s (OISR) quarterly report, presented by ISR Keven Zhou. 

The OISR is currently in the process of finishing a menu translation for the CoHo and will seek to translate documents for other ASUCD units in the future, according to Zhou. 

The office is also seeking to help international students secure housing both on and off campus via workshops held for current students in residence halls. According to Zhou, this idea was inspired by numerous reports of housing scams targeting international students in the past year. 

“Currently, we’re targeting freshman students because a lot of international students right now are living in the freshmen dorms,” Zhou said. “We haven’t really considered transfer students yet [but] we can work with the [Office of the Transfer Student Representative].”

Following the OISR quarterly report, the Senate called a 15-minute break at 7:49 p.m.

Next on the agenda were elected officer reports, during which members of the Senate table gave reports on their activity in the past week.

Senator Shrey Gupta attended a meeting exploring ways to digitize some of the Senate’s operations, including new ways to organize bills and bylaws. 

Senator Francisco Ojeda announced to the Senate that a meeting will be held the week of Jan. 23 with Chancellor Gary May, in case any senator would like to attend.

Fujimoto received price information for his planned student-worker listening session at the CoHo. He also advocated for SB #4, a California senate bill that addresses housing planning and zoning for higher education institutions.

Eden announced that there will be vacancies for certain positions in the executive branch of ASUCD opening up soon.

Transfer Student Representative Logan Ueno discussed his plans for a sticker drop and his Instagram posts advertising the upcoming drop. 

The Senate then moved to discuss the status of new legislation.

SB #47, a bill that seeks to move the confirmation process of unpaid volunteer positions into the consent calendar section of Senate meetings in order to boost efficiency, was sent to the Internal Affairs Commission (IAC) for further consideration.

SB #46, which would have the Senate President Pro Tempore give a quarterly report as an act of transparency, was also sent to the IAC.

SB #48 was an emergency piece of legislation. The bill sought to provide the ASUCD Mental Health Initiative (MHI) money for food vouchers for their conference this past weekend, after previously-allocated money in the budget fell short of the estimated costs.

The initiative’s estimate for food for their yearly mental health conference totaled $11,430, $7,430 over their budget. The initiative had enough to pay $1,500 over its budget but sought the assistance of the Senate to purchase meal vouchers for food trucks at the event.

“This event is a flagship way that ASUCD promotes mental health advocacy,” Eden said. “[The MHI] wants to give out food truck vouchers for the two-day event so everyone can eat. [They] offered to spend all of their loose money, which is supposed to be for events for their staff, and they’re doing their part. We can do our part to help them.”

“It is a large sum of money, and I really wish it could have been handled during budget hearings, or at least earlier in the year,” Senator Zeph Schnelbach said. “But I would like to remind the table that we have an insane amount of money for this entire year, of which only three or four people around this table actually tap into. I personally see no issue with putting this money towards this unit.”

“Since [the MHI] has already been allocated $4,000, this additional $6,000 would mean that we are essentially approving a $10,000 line item here […] for one event, one conference, $15 per person,” Fujimoto said. “I understand the importance of this conference and of mental health, but there are other potential ways we can use this money.”

Deliberation continued on the bill, but was ultimately passed 11-0-1, with only Fujimoto abstaining.

The Senate next moved to consider old legislation.

SR #3 asked the Senate to show their support for Unitrans’s transition to electric buses. Such a show of support would be used by Unitrans for a grant that would help them replace their current diesel double-decker buses with battery-powered double-decker buses. 

There were numerous public comments in support of this resolution, including the Unitrans transit planning manager, who wrote in to remind the Senate of the pollution caused by the current diesel buses.

After brief deliberation, the resolution passed unanimously.

Amendments to the budget were then considered, starting with a decrease in allocated money for The Pantry’s office and mail budget. The change was unanimously approved.

Next came changes to the Picnic Day budget. Previously, the Doxie Derby event organizers were paid to be at Picnic Day, which is not the case for any other organizers at the event. The change, which will make the Doxie Derby organizer position unpaid by ASUCD, was unanimously approved.

The Gender and Sexuality Committee members, who are in charge of the Pride Festival on campus, requested a change that would allocate $3,830 of their $6,169 budget to paying Pride Festival chairpersons in charge of organizing the event for winter and spring quarters.

The change was approved unanimously by the Senate.

The final budget amendment added more money to the equipment rental budget for the Whole Earth Festival. The change was unanimously approved.

SB #41 was the last piece of old legislation on the agenda. The bill, proposed by Fujimoto, sought to clarify the use of injunctions by the Judicial Council on legislation. 

The bill was passed unanimously. 

Eden adjourned the meeting at 10:19 p.m.

 

Written by: Sydney Amestoy — campus@theaggie.org