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SJP and UC Divest Coalition Demonstrations at UCLA

USAC recap – Feb. 27

By Catherine Hamilton

March 3, 2024 7:41 p.m.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council held its final meeting of February on Tuesday.

USAC is the official student government representing the undergraduate student body at UCLA. Council meetings are open to all students and take place in person at the Bruin Viewpoint room and on Zoom every Tuesday at 7 p.m. Students can find the links for the meetings on the agenda posted on the USAC website or watch a livestream on the USAC Live! channel on YouTube.

Public comment:

  • Clara Castronovo, the statewide board chair for the California Public Interest Research Group, said the organization has offered voting resources to students encouraging them to participate in the March 5 primary elections. She added that CALPIRG recently conducted a lobbying trip in Sacramento, where they pushed for legislation relating to regulating fast fashion, banning plastic bags and other climate topics.
  • Edin Madrid, a student parent associated with the Bruin Parenting Scholars, said he attended the meeting to raise awareness about the group and to let the campus know that the community is struggling, especially following the recent arrest of a former UCLA Early Care and Education caregiver, who was charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and willful cruelty to a child.
  • A policy fellow for the Los Angeles Civil Rights Department highlighted the department’s program that handles discrimination complaints, including those relating to the workplace, education and housing.

Funding:

  • The council allocated $6,162.30 from the Contingency Programming Fund to two USAC-related and 29 non-USAC events.
  • The council allocated $3,100.97 from the Supplemental Fund for Service to two USAC entities and two non-USAC entities.
  • The council allocated $1,500 from the Student Wellness Programming Fund to two USAC entities and $660 to one non-USAC entity.
  • The council allocated $800 from the Academic Success Referendum Fund to one non-USAC entity.
  • The council allocated $3,287.23 from the Travel Mini-Grant to four non-USAC entities.
  • The council allocated $36,511.48 from the Arts Restoring Community Fund to 24 non-USAC entities.
  • The council allocated $11,164.97 from The Green Initiative Fund to three non-USAC entities.

Special Presentations:

  • Eliyah Cohen, an undergraduate representative from the Associated Students UCLA board of directors, discussed the board’s green events initiative, which will work to lessen the environmental impact and enhance sustainability of planning, execution and aftermath processes for ASUCLA events. He added that ASUCLA will implement the initiative Aug. 1. Cohen also said the board is considering ways to implement services and resources at newly-acquired UCLA properties, including the Trust Building. He added that the board hopes to launch initiatives that support the campus community, such as creating new resource centers, reducing the costs of food on campus, raising wages and supporting events.
  • Celene Aridin, UC Student Association president, presented about the organization, which is the official representative body of the more than 240,000 UC students. Aridin, who is also the external affairs vice president at UC Davis, said the system tries to help students advocate to the University. She added that each campuses’ external affairs vice president serves as a designated voting member, with a non-voting organizing director and legislative director from each campus also joining the board to address campus action and government relations, respectively. Aridin also said UCSA currently supports five campaigns, including Racial Justice Now and UCWeVote, as well as student advocacy efforts such as the Opportunity for All campaign and the HOMES coalition. The association’s most recent win resulted in $19 million to fund disability service centers in 2023, she added.
  • Third-year public affairs student Katie Wagman presented on automatic textbook billing at UCLA. She first explained inclusive access, which allows students to opt out of materials by class, and equitable access, which allows students to opt out of materials by term. Wagman added that President Joe Biden’s administration is reevaluating the 2016 Cash Management Rule – which allows for the automatic textbook billing – and is considering revising the rule to be an opt-in policy rather than opt-out. Wagman said the Academic Affairs Commission hopes to host a town hall for students to have an open discussion with USAC officers and the UCLA bookstore. In the future, the commission will request USAC to sign on to support potential federal changes to the policy, she said.
  • Scott Chapman, the UCLA Store’s Book Division Manager, discussed Bruin One Access – the university’s inclusive access program – which will cost students $129 per quarter if they choose to not opt out. He added that inclusive access saved UCLA students $1,106,503 in the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Jessica Alexander, the ASUCLA Student Government Services Division Manager, reviewed the annual audit that looks at expenses from entities such as USAC, the Graduate Student Association and UCLA Student Media to help determine surplus funds. President Naomi Hammonds informed officers that the surplus proposal form to be completed by each office is due March 1 at 3 p.m. She added that officers are to meet with an ASUCLA advisor during week nine to discuss their proposals, and that the council will vote on the surplus proposals during its final meeting of the quarter.

Appointment:

  • The council appointed Erica Huang to the Campus Sustainability Committee.

Officer Reports:

  • Hammonds said she presented to campus tours about UCLA’s Black history and events to encourage them to incorporate this knowledge into tours. She added that her office worked to gain co-sponsors for the resolutions being presented at the meeting. Hammonds also said she was disappointed that a majority of the officers did not attend the previous weekend’s mandatory CORO leadership training, especially since it had cost the council $4,000 to set up. General Representative Jonathan Valenzuela Mejia echoed Hammonds’ sentiment, adding that USAC officers who did not attend the training should be prepared to explain to the student body how the council spent $4,000 for them not to attend.
  • Internal Vice President Megan Law said the Appointment Review Committee will interview a candidate for the ASUCLA Communications Board on Wednesday and four candidates for the open Transfer Student Representative position Friday. She added that her office participated in the True Bruin RAISE awards, conducted a funding workshop and released a survey regarding the cost of course materials.
  • External Vice President Eva Jussim said 10 to 15 UCLA representatives attended the Latino Lobby Day on Feb. 27. She added in her written report that her office is still working with the Facilities Commission and BruinsVote to support Measure HLA, which encourages the UC to implement a safe parking program.
  • General Representative Katie Pool said her office will host a financial literacy night Feb. 28 in collaboration with the club MoneyThink.
  • General Representative Gabrielle Lasry’s written report was not updated for the week.
  • Mejia said his office will host the Latine Caucus on Feb. 29 to discuss issues facing the community. He added that he thinks the petition to impeach Cultural Affairs Commissioner Alicia Verdugo is “misguided, preposterous and frankly racist.” Mejia also said the petition relies on bullying and punishment and called on the council members to denounce it.
  • Academic Affairs Commissioner Sujana Sridhar’s written report was not updated for the week.
  • Campus Events Commissioner Mason Miller said in his written report that his office is finalizing another sponsorship and will be hosting an indie rock concert March 8.
  • Community Service Commissioner Chia Ying Wong said in her written report that the office’s analytics director is finalizing the fall quarter transparency report, and the office led a delegation to Texas for the IMPACT conference the past weekend.
  • Cultural Affairs Commissioner Alicia Verdugo’s written report was not updated for the week.
  • Facilities Commissioner Nilaya Kanuri encouraged LA voters to support the HLA measure to hold the city accountable for promoting equitable infrastructure. She added that Bruin Bazaar is hosting a clothing swap Wednesday of week nine.
  • Financial Supports Commissioner Sara Broukhim said in her written report that her office has been planning how to use its remaining budget.
  • Student Wellness Commissioner Jennis Kang said registration has opened for the 24th annual Bruin Run/Walk 5K race on April 21, which will support the Painted Turtle, an organization that hosts camps for children with serious medical conditions.
  • The council has yet to appoint a new Transfer Student Representative.
  • International Student Representative Adam Tfayli said in his written report that his office met with the Career Center to work on a job and internship fair for international students. He added in the report that his office helped plan the Battle of the Bruins soccer tournament.

Agenda items and resolutions:

  • My-Lan Le, chair of the USAC Elections Board, proposed an election code change that requires candidates to have 50 signatures in support of their campaign rather than 100. She added that, despite not being formally changed in the bylaws, last year’s candidates were only required to seek 50 signatures. The bylaw change was approved by a unanimous vote.
  • Le then presented the election calendar and elections packet, both of which were approved unanimously. This year, the elections packet, ballot initiatives and the establishment of slates are due March 15, and voting will end May 10 at 2 p.m., with results announced that night at 8 p.m. The only change to the elections packet beyond the 50 signature minimum is an added section explaining the rules for elected members, such as unit and GPA requirements and the requirement to serve the full term on campus.
  • The council then discussed the resolution to support Assembly Bill 1818, which requires the California Community Colleges and California State University systems, and recommends the UC system, to implement a safe parking program to allow unhoused students the opportunity to stay in their cars parked in university-owned lots. The resolution calls on USAC to stand in solidarity with the assembly bill and urges UCLA to implement safe parking even if the bill does not pass and uplift the voices of unhoused students. The council will vote on the resolution during its March 4 meeting.
  • Finally, members of the Armenian Students Association presented on the Resolution Condemning the Genocide of the Ethnic Armenian Population of Artsahk and Calling for the UC’s Immediate Divestment from the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Turkey. The organization’s president, Mary Keushkerian, said this resolution revises one previously passed by USAC, urging the council to stand in solidarity with Armenians, condemn discrimination, military aggression and ethnic cleansing, encourage the hiring of specialized Counseling and Psychological Services staff, and urge the UC to divest from the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkey. Mischa Gureghian Hall, ASA’s political affairs chair, said he thought the call was a legal and moral obligation, as he believes the UC is complicit in violations of international law. He added that the resolution also demands the UC to disclose financial investments linked to foreign governments.
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Catherine Hamilton
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
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