USAC recap – May 25
The Undergraduate Students Association Council discussed publishing a statement voicing solidarity with Palestinian students.
- Lauren Thielen-Esparza, a third-year political science student, said she supported USAC’s making a statement in support of Palestinians. On Friday, Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement that ended 11 days of fighting that claimed hundreds of lives, according to The New York Times.
- Justin Rodriguez, the 2020-2021 general representative 2 and a third-year economics student, said he supported Palestinians. Rodriguez said he thinks Israel is a settler-colonial state and is committing ethnic cleansing in Palestinian territories. Settler colonialism is a type of colonialism that replaces the original population of a territory with a different group of people, according to Oxford Bibliographies. Rodriguez added that the University of California supports Israel’s actions through academic studies and contributing to weapons technologies that the Israeli military uses. BlackRock, a firm that invests in the weapons industry and corporations connected to alleged human rights violations, manages some University funds. Rodriguez also added that the 2020-2021 council passed a resolution calling on UCLA to divest from companies that contribute to global military operations. He said the current council should do the same.
- Zuleika Bravo, the 2020-2021 transfer student representative and a fifth-year political science student, said she stands in solidarity with Palestinians. She said USAC should condemn any form of state violence. Bravo also said she hopes the council stands in solidarity with the Palestinian community. Bravo added she hopes USAC will provide Palestinian students with access to necessary resources. She also said she hopes USAC releases a statement against antisemitism.
- Yesmeen Shennawi, a nursing student, said she is a Palestinian American concerned that more than 200 families in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem, are being displaced by Israelis. Many Palestinian students are experiencing mental health problems as a result of recent violence, and UCLA’s delayed support has been inadequate, Shennawi added. Shennawi also said UCLA should affirm Palestinians’ right to live free from settler colonialism.
- Manaal Sayed, a fourth-year psychobiology student, said she supports USAC’s passing a resolution in solidarity with Palestinian students. Sayed said USAC’s silence can be interpreted as condoning Israel’s actions.
- Sara Ahmed Jahangiri, a fourth-year sociology student, said she urges all USAC members to stand in solidarity with Palestinian students. Ahmed Jahangiri said that the emotional labor of standing up against oppression should not be put on Palestinian students.
- Sachi Cooper, the 2020-2021 Facilities commissioner and a third-year geography student, said she supports USAC’s standing in solidarity with Palestinians. Cooper added that, as a Jewish student, she does not believe advocating against settler colonialism in Palestinian territories is antisemitic. The Jewish community is not homogenous, and USAC should research and contact Jewish campus organizations who support Palestinians’ struggles, she added.
- Samantha Schwartz, a third-year labor studies and public affairs student, said she also supports USAC’s standing in solidarity with Palestinians. Public recognition of Palestinian students’ struggles would offer visibility and make mental health resources more accessible, Schwartz said. She added that she wants USAC to release a separate letter in support of the Jewish community and condemning antisemitism.
- Ashley Ceballos, a second-year political science student, said she supports USAC’s releasing a statement against the oppression of Palestinians.
- Chloe Rosenstock, a second-year sociology student, said she supports USAC’s condemnation of what she considers ethnic cleansing and settler colonialism committed by Israel. She added that supporting the human rights of the Palestinians is not antisemitic.
- Jason Vu, a fourth-year Asian American studies and global studies student, said he believes the violation of Palestinians’ human rights is part of a broader history of militarism and colonialism, and he stands in solidarity with Palestinian students.
- Laila Shaaban, a first-year environmental science student, said she is a Palestinian refugee and wants UCLA and USAC to stand in support of Palestinians.
- Hamza Mirza, the external vice president of the Muslim Student Association at UCLA and a third-year history student, said USAC should support the self-determination of Palestinians and stand against the Israeli state’s occupation and settler colonialism.
- Jack Arndt-Schreiber, a student representative from California Public Interest Research Group Students UCLA chapter, said oil drilling hurts environments across the state and disproportionately harms marginalized communities. He said CALPIRG is using grassroots power, visibility and coalitions to advocate for the end of oil drilling in California.
- The council allocated $10,827.57 to USAC’s Office Space Allocation Committee for furniture.
- The council allocated $245.35 to the Vietnamese Student Union, an organization that advocates for the welfare of the Vietnamese community, for its graduation event and $1,076.93 for its HOPE end-of-year celebration.
- The council allocated $750 to the Bruin Film Society, an organization dedicated to celebrating films with students, for its “The Enchanted Cottage” screening.
- The council allocated $299 to Pilipinos for Community Health, an organization that aims to support underserved communities in the Los Angeles area, for its Virtual Health Fair.
- The council allocated $1,958.13 to the Pacific Islands’ Student Association, an organization advocating for Pacific Islander communities at UCLA and in Los Angeles, for its graduation event.
- The council allocated $2,100 to the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA, an organization that promotes the interests of Black students at UCLA, for its Ega Meni Lenu event.
- The council allocated $299 to Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, an organization that promotes justice for the Palestinian people, for its Water Sovereignty in Palestine program.
- The council allocated $350 to GlobeMed at UCLA, an organization that sponsors projects to improve nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene around the world, for its trivia night event.
- The council allocated $84 to the Students for Community Outreach, Promotion, and Education’s Fitness and Nutrition program, a health education division of SCOPE, for its website.
- The council allocated $500 to the USAC Office of the President for its 2020-2021 T-shirts.
- The council allocated $275 to Artreach at UCLA, an organization that provides outlets for art appreciation and creation to marginalized communities, for its art workshops and $80 for its Art Off! event.
- The council allocated $2,118.29 to META MAG at UCLA, a fashion editorial magazine, for its spring launch event, $135 for its spring 2021 issue and $78 for its Cargo website.
- The Green Initiative Fund, which funds projects and events that promote sustainability within the UCLA community, allocated $73,000 to Associated Students UCLA’s Bruin Meals Program, which gives free meals to Bruins and their families living in university apartments.
USAC discussed releasing a statement in solidarity with Palestinian students. Council members agreed that the council must stand in solidarity with Palestinian students and support all oppressed groups, particularly those represented on campus. Many USAC members also said the council should condemn rising antisemitism.
However, some council members voiced concerns about the proposed statement’s wording. Passa Pungchai, a third-year biomedical engineering student and the 2021-2022 general representative 2, said the council should revise the language of the letter, specifically by defining what UCLA’s divestment would look like and acknowledging specific actors in the oppression of Palestinians. Pungchai said it is important for USAC to make clear distinctions between the state of Israel, Jewish people and Israeli people to curb rising antisemitism. Carl King Jr., a third-year business economics student and the 2021-2022 general representative 3, said he could not support the statement, as he felt its current language could be inflammatory and make Jewish students more vulnerable to antisemitism.
Breeze Velazquez, the 2021-2022 USAC president and 2020-2021 USAC Academic Affairs commissioner, said Palestinian and Jewish campus organizations participated in drafting the letter. Velazquez, a third-year public affairs student, added that she did not want to burden these groups by asking for approval of another version of the statement.
- USAC President Breeze Velazquez said all students, regardless of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, are eligible to apply to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and financial aid. Velazquez added she met with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Monroe Gorden to discuss the Bruin Emergency Relief Fund referendum, which failed in the 2021 USAC election. Velazquez said they also discussed the need for the administration to listen to student voices in reference to the Mother Organizations’ protest of the UCLA Community Programs Office administration’s lack of transparency and hostile work environment. Velazquez also said she met with ASUCLA officials to discuss the council’s budget. Velazquez said she is working on the letter in solidarity with Palestinian students and has met with Hillel at UCLA, a Jewish student organization, to discuss changes.
- Internal Vice President Cassandra Gatica said there will be a UCLA Campus Safety Alliance meeting Friday to discuss COVID-19 protocols to return to campus. Gatica also said she is working on weekly transparency reports for the IVP office.
- External Vice President Sarah Wang said she is in the process of filling UC committee appointments and that applications are still open.
- General Representative 1 Hailey Valles said in a written report that she also met with Hillel at UCLA to discuss the letter expressing solidarity with Palestinian students and that she is planning a timeline for next year to implement initiatives.
- General Representative 2 Passa Pungchai said in a written report that she met with Valles to discuss Title IX, student worker concerns, the UC Board of Regents and federal work study funds. She also said she met with Angelina Quint, the Academic Affairs commissioner, to discuss concerns about the Academic Senate, pass/no pass grading, student wellness and hybrid learning. Pungchai said she attended the meeting with Hillel at UCLA.
- Financial Supports Commissioner Emily Yu said she released the second round of the USAC’s pandemic relief fund, which had around 800 recipients who were given $250 each.
- International Student Representative Natalia Garcia Tang said in a written report she also met with Hillel at UCLA. Garcia Tang added she co-sponsored a resolution with Herman Luis Chavez, the transfer student representative, on basic needs.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council is the official student government representing the undergraduate student body at UCLA. Council meetings take place Tuesdays at 7 p.m. during spring quarter and are open to all students. Spring quarter 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.