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Friday, January 22, 2021

AS Board adds three referendums to upcoming ballot

By Kayna Dean

This April, students will be able to vote on whether to revitalize ethnic studies, make Western a smoke-free campus and change allocation of the Student Technology Fee. The Associated Students Board approved these referendums at its Wednesday, Feb. 28 meeting, and put the Sustainable Action Fund renaming and referendum for undocumented student support on hold.

Ethnic Studies Referendum approved

The AS Board unanimously approved adding a referendum asking students if they support revitalizing ethnic studies at Western to the upcoming election ballot.

The Board is concerned that the current Comparative Gender and Multicultural Studies graduation requirement is not sufficient in covering issues faced by marginalized students. The AS Board signed a resolution saying so in August 2017,

In the last meeting, Yanzon said research shows well-designed ethnic studies curricula has a positive impact on students.

This referendum is to see what student support is for revitalizing the College of Ethnic Studies, creating a program of study and including courses in the General University Requirements. It will recommend this to Faculty Senate and university administration.

Smoke Free Campus Referendum approved

The Board unanimously voted to add a referendum asking students whether the AS should support making Western a smoke-free campus to the upcoming election ballot. Gordon said this would ban smoking from Western’s campus and educate students on the harmful effects of tobacco while doing so.

Depending on the outcome of the vote, this referendum would go to the Board of Trustees to make the executive decision on whether to implement this or not.

Referendum for undocumented student support halted

Last week, AS Vice President for Student Life Annie Gordon discussed a referendum proposing to add a $1 fee per student per quarter to go toward the Undocumented Student Support Fund through the Financial Aid office.

Gordon said that upon further research, student fees cannot go toward a fund. Gordon said she, along with the rest of the board, will brainstorm a solution that will be a consistent and reliable financial source for undocumented students while still remaining accessible. They will bring their solution ideas for discussion at their next meeting.

Student Technology Fee Renewal

The Board voted unanimously to put the Student Technology Fee renewal on the election ballot. The amount of the fee is not changing, but the distribution is. Once voted on by the students, the fee will not need to be reconsidered for renewal for five years.

Hunter Eider, AS vice president for academic affairs, explained that the current Student Technology Fee covers funds for the Student Technology Center, computer lab renewal and replacement and print quotas. The fee is $35 per quarter for students taking six or more credits and $17.50 per quarter for students taking less than six credits.

The fee was voted by the AS Student Technology Fee Committee to stay the same but allocate the funds differently. More money from the fees will be going to computer lab renewal and less will be going to print quotas, Eider said.

Sustainable Action Fund renaming on hold

Last meeting, Gordon said the Sustainable Action Fund Committee is considering a name change from Sustainable Action Fund to Sustainability, Equity and Justice Fund.  The aim of the name change would be to broaden the fund’s title to promote social justice on campus.

Gordon said she noticed some people at the Sustainable Action Fund’s last meeting were hesitant about changing the name to Sustainability, Equity and Justice Fund. One of the other names she suggested was the Environmental Fund, though she said changing the name to that may limit the holistic approach to sustainability. She said she wants to be sure that when students hear the name of the fund, they know it’s a fund not only concerned about environmental issues, but social justice and human health as well.

Gordon suggested waiting to decide on the permanent name of the fund until next week’s meeting. This would give Board members a chance to come up with some name possibilities. The Board will vote on the name and whether to put the referendum on the election ballot next week.

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