USAC recap – July 28
July 31, 2020 4:22 p.m.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council is the official student government representing the undergraduate student body at UCLA. Council meetings take place every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. during the summer and are open to all students. Summer meetings will take place virtually on Zoom; links for the meetings can be found on the Internal Vice President’s Facebook page. Watch a livestream of the meetings on the USAC Live! channel on YouTube.
- Hailey Valles, a California Public Interest Research Group Students board member for the UCLA chapter and a third-year microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics student, said CALPIRG has been focusing its efforts on the New Voters Project, which encourages students to vote. Valles added CALPIRG is working with the Bruins Vote Coalition to further institutionalize voting within the UCLA community. The BruinsVOTE! coalition, composed of 30 different student organizations, recently voted to incorporate a Suffrage in History of Voting education project to educate UCLA students on historical suffrage activism, Valles said.
- Steve Catlin, the director of strategic partnerships at College Pads, said Associated Students UCLA should consider using College Pads to help students navigate the process of finding off-campus housing. The company gives students information on available rooms off-campus and provides additional housing assistance, Catlin said. He added that landlords must meet requirements set by ASUCLA to appear on the site and students can report issues with landlords through the website.
- Ina Sotomayor, the director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, said some students who have not verified their housing statuses were denoted as commuter/remote learner by default. She added that aid for the UC Student Health Insurance Plan did not appear on some students’ financial aid notifications because these students are expected to receive other grants that cover the cost of UC SHIP in addition to their cost of living. Sotomayor said students need to submit a Housing Adjustment Form if their housing status on the FAN is incorrect. Sotomayor also said fewer students have filled out the paperwork required by the FAS office and the Department of Education to receive aid this year. Sotomayor said the FAS office hopes ASUCLA can provide remote jobs or relax health guidelines for students with work-study. If current work-study students are not able to get a remote job, they can convert their work-study status to a low-interest student loan, she added.
- Quinn O’Connor, the USAC Facilities Commission chief of staff, and Carolanne Link, the UCLA Web Accessibility Initiative project manager, presented on the measures the council could take to ensure online accessibility for students with disabilities.
- Kareem Elzein, the co-founder of the Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant Program and a graduate student in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, said BEST’s funding was cut by outgoing Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Jerry Kang. Elzein said BEST fosters social justice leadership by coordinating and providing funds and opportunities to campus activists. Elzein added that without administrative funding, BEST will be forced to dissolve because of the lack of alternative sources of funds. The EDI vice chancellor cut funding for BEST before UCLA faced financial challenges incurred by the pandemic, he said.
- The council allocated a total of $1,450 from the Contingency Programming Fund to non-USAC groups.
- The council appointed Lauren Valles, a third-year political science student, to the University of California Student Association Board of Directors. Valles said she is passionate about advocating for expanding internet connection to address the inequities of distance learning. Valles added that she will prioritize marginalized and low-income students. She also said she will prevent potential cuts to student jobs on campus because of COVID-19 by advocating for online work-study positions.
- The council appointed Melody Satele, a third-year environmental studies and sociology student, to the UCSA Board of Directors. Satele said she will prioritize the concerns of marginalized communities by improving access and retention programs for historically underrepresented groups.
- The council appointed Carlos Herrera, a fourth-year biology student, to the Community Service Mini Fund. Herrera said he wants to increase the Community Service Mini Fund’s service commitments and its presence on social media.
- The council appointed Ngan Tran, a fourth-year biochemistry and economics student, to the Community Service Mini Fund. Tran said she wants to increase transparency and the number of applicants.
- The council appointed Michael Huang, a fourth-year computer engineering student, to the Cultural Affairs Commission.
- The council appointed Rishika Voruganti, a second-year biology student, to the CAC as an alternate. Voruganti said she will promote equity in funding by collaborating with other council members to allocate resources fairly.
- The council approved a resolution that calls on the UC to openly condemn the anti-terror law enacted in the Philippines and to express support for the proposed Philippine Human Rights Act, which would suspend United States security assistance to the Philippines until officials address human rights violations.
- The council approved a resolution calling on USAC to enhance its accessibility and inclusivity online. The resolution said at least 15% of UCLA students are students with disabilities and are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The resolution added that all registered student groups should aim to implement online accessibility in their communications and programming.
- The council approved a resolution that supported the renaming of Janss Steps to Tongva Steps, in order to commemorate and acknowledge the Tongva people, the original inhabitants of the land.
- The council approved the changes to the Travel Grant Mini Fund guideline proposed by the Academic Affairs Commission, which said in the case of a global pandemic and/or universitywide remote learning, the TGMF will also provide financial support to help students host virtual events and participate in programmings.
- President Naomi Riley said her office and the Future Planning Task Force decided to change all on-campus housing to single occupancy rooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She added that her office is working on facilitating communication between students and UCLA administration about potential changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Internal Vice President Emily Hong Van Luong said her office is finalizing a draft for the public health ambassadors program that promotes adherence to public health and safety measures. She added that her office is working on creating resources and recommendations for students to foster a culture of compliance to public health guidelines. Luong said her office will prioritize the needs of immunocompromised students when making reopening policies.
- External Vice President Aidan Arasasingham said his office met with UC Board of Regents Vice Chair Cecilia Estolano to discuss student priorities relating to the Thirty Meter Telescope, the new UC President and defunding the UCPD. He added that Campus Partnerships, an EVP office, collaborated with the American Indian Student Association to draft a resolution to rename Janss Steps. Arasasingham said his office presented policy briefs to the UCLA Federal Relations Team on issues such as the 2020 census, federal police reforms, the coronavirus pandemic and immigration executive orders.
- General Representative 2 Justin Rodriguez said his office has held project meetings to advocate for Counseling and Psychological Services to redirect its resources to better serve students. He added his office is working to expand the Know Your Rights Camp, which works to support next generation Black, Indigenous and people of color leaders. Rodriguez also said his office is promoting ethical and sustainable purchasing by UCLA.
- Facilities Commissioner Sachi Cooper said her office is addressing online accessibility, mobility mapping and van services to better serve disabled students. She added her office is advocating for the ethical sourcing of products sold on campus. Cooper also said her office is collaborating with the USAC student homelessness task force to provide resources that better serve the homeless community.
- Financial Supports Commissioner Noe Garcia said his office has awarded $288,750 to 1,055 students through its relief fund. He added that his office is working to contact people whose information is incomplete so they can claim their awards.
- Campus Events Commissioner Alice Naland said her office is working on programmings for the fall quarter. She added her office hopes to collaborate with CALPIRG to promote civic engagement and voter registration. Naland also said her office is brainstorming safe community-building events and entertainment for students living in the dorms.
- Transfer Student Representative Zuleika Bravo said her office conducted its first New Student Advisor training on diversity and intersectionality. She added her office plans to add transfer student awareness training for other USAC offices. Bravo also said she is connecting with the EDI office to promote transfer student inclusivity in financial aid and housing.
- Student Wellness Commissioner Christina Read said her office is collaborating with the IVP office to develop the public health ambassadors program. She added that her office is reviewing the COVID-19 attitude survey and will report on its findings.
- Community Service Commissioner Jonathan Wisner said his office is working on training for applicants requesting funding for their community service initiatives. The applications are due at the end of August, he added.
- Academic Affairs Commissioner Breeze Velazquez said her office is collaborating with different organizations to prepare for Social Justice Saturday. Velazquez also said she met with the libraries who will now connect students to resources such as open-source textbooks. Velazquez said her office’s anti-racist training was approved for the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to use as a trial run in conjunction with diversity changes. She added that she is writing a syllabus to propose a new transformative justice minor to the dean of social sciences.
- Cultural Affairs Commissioner Promise Ogunleye said her office is working on digitizing its work so students can access CAC’s resources while adhering to public health measures.