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USAC recap – March 30

By Ben Brill and Guillaume Chantereau

April 4, 2021 11:44 a.m.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council discussed the allocation of financial aid through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and approved an amendment to the elections code.

Public Comment:

  • Brandon McClelland, a first-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, and David Karalli, a third-year electrical engineering student, said they support the constitutional amendments proposed in March by International Student Representative Bakur Madini to expand the power of the Undergraduate Students Association Elections Board and the USA Judicial Board. The amendments were rejected by USAC and the Constitutional Review Committee in March.

Special Presentations:

  • Marvin Smith, the executive director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, and Ina Sotomayor, the director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, updated the council on the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, a federal fund that provides financial aid to students who are struggling to make ends meet. Smith said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, the vice provost for Enrollment Management, will chair a committee that will allocate HEERF II funds to students. The HEERF II, part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, passed in December 2020 and will provide $17.9 million in student aid to UCLA students from spring 2021 through winter 2022. The attribution of HEERF II financial aid will be made based on financial need and only for students who have filed Free Application for Federal Student Aid, Smith said. Another student aid package, HEERF III, will come from the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March and will be rolled out starting fall 2021. The university expects to receive $46.5 million from HEERF III, Smith added.

Allocation:

  • The council allocated $582.25 to Bruins Public Health Club for its community health education site events.

  • The council allocated $100 to the Vietnamese Student Union for its Southeast Asian admit weekend event.

  • The council allocated $850 to Deviant Voices A Cappella for its Melodyne 5 Studio.

  • The council allocated $120 to the Bruin Polyglots Society for its Canva Pro yearly subscription.

  • The council allocated $300 to Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship for its virtual egg hunt event.

  • The council allocated $535 to Samahang Pilipino for its spring 2021 board retreat event.

  • The council allocated $520 to the Life Sciences Student Association for its First-generation/low-income Graduate Healthcare Track Conference.

  • The council allocated $100 to ACS On Campus for its Week of Greek event.

  • The council allocated $54.69 to the Pediatric Aids Coalition for its virtual dance marathon 2020.

  • The council allocated $500 to the Pilipino Recruitment and Enrichment Program for its Kababayan Pilipinx weekend for admits.

  • The council allocated $375 to Flying Samaritans at UCLA for its national conference on undergraduate research.

  • The council allocated $214 to Consult Your Community at UCLA for its spring general meeting and spring big-little competition.

  • USAC approved an allocation of $32,327.14 to 10 non-USAC entities from the Arts Restoring Community Referendum Fund, which funds different organizations and clubs with goals to promote cultural diversity through arts.

Reports:

  • USAC President Naomi Riley said she has been working with the housing prioritization team to discuss recommendations on how to prioritize students for housing accommodations. Riley said she is working with the university in hopes of an in-person commencement for graduating seniors but that the discussions are still ongoing. Riley also said she is preparing for the Future Student Leaders of Color Conference, a conference that aims to teach California high school students about college leadership, because COVID-19 exacerbated existing financial inequities for people of color. Riley said she met with ASUCLA’s marketing team about creating a video that breaks down where student fees go.

  • Internal Vice President Emily Luong said her Drive Down Rent and Finance Committee sent out decisions from the Rent Relief Award during spring break and is now working to send checks to students.

  • External Vice President Aidan Arasasingham said he worked with Riley and other University of California Student Association colleagues on the Campus Safety Symposium to discuss students’ priorities on reallocation of policing resources, budgetary issues, accountability, transparency and abolition. Arasasingham said his office participated in the UCSA Student Lobby Conference to help students learn about advocacy, coalition building and lobbying. Students were also able to share their perspectives and priorities with state assembly members and senators on subjects relating to transparency and accountability for Greek organizations, affordable student housing, Cal Grant financial aid reform and police accountability at the state level, Arasasingham said.

  • Transfer Student Representative Zuleika Bravo said UCLA hired a new Transfer Student Center director who will begin the position April 9. Bravo said her office will continue to meet with the UCLA administration to address USAC demands to support formerly incarcerated students.

  • International Student Representative Bakur Madini said the UCSA sent a letter to the UC Academic Senate concerning academic accommodations for international students following the death of an international student at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. Madini added that he created a student-led petition that has already collected almost 1,000 signatures to expand the power and independence of the USA Elections Board and USA Judicial Board, following the advice of the council after it rejected the constitutional articles Madini proposed last quarter.

  • Community Service Commissioner Jonathan Wisner said his office released a letter calling on the UCLA administration to create an in-person graduation ceremony for seniors. Wisner said he is looking for UCLA students’ support for the letter. Wisner added that his office has been working with different organizations to host events for Homelessness Awareness Week.

Agenda:

  • The council approved an amendment to the election code to limit the power of the newly created transition director. The amendment also clarifies the board’s power to amend the election code. Under the new code, the elections board transition director cannot apply to an executive committee position on the board; the elections board can bring forward amendments to the election code after the candidate orientation meeting only if they do not currently impact the current election cycle. The new code also states that USAC may propose and approve amendments to the election code in special circumstances if the elections board fails to propose an amendment to the election code by week five of winter quarter. If the elections board were to decide not to change the election code, the chair should come forward with a statement explaining so, said Debra Geller, an administrative representative to USAC.

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 7 p.m. during spring quarter and are open to all students. Spring quarter 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.

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