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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Associated Students Executive Board unanimously pass funds for new student resources

Illustration by Hunter Smith

By Maxwell Leidig

The Associated Students Board of Directors passed numerous motions on Friday, May 10, including funding for the Blue Resource Center, the Queer Guild Council, the AS Food and Housing Insecurity Advisory Committee and the Student Technology Fee budget recommendations.

The Associated Students Executive Board unanimously passed a motion to implement two student employment positions for the Blue Resource Center. These positions include an Educational Program Coordinator and an Advocacy Coordinator.

Western’s Blue Group paved the way for the Blue Resource Center to support undocumented and mixed status students. The center would operate similarly to the Student Advocacy and Identity Resource Centers, according to AS vice president for diversity Camilla Mejia.

The Blue Resource Center will have a yearly budget of around $19,000 and will be reviewed after three years of operation to determine official indoctrination into SAIRC.

The creation of the AS Food and Housing Insecurity Advisory Committee was also unanimously passed by the board. The AS VP of Sustainability will help the committee address and evaluate food and housing needs for students according to AS VP for Student Life Anne Lee. 

Lee said the committee would work together with existing programs, including but not limited to, Western’s Hub of Living Essentials, Birnam Wood’s Food Pantry and the Outback Farm.

Following this motion, members in support of the Queer Guild Summit cheered as a funding charter passed in a unanimous vote. This charter will allocate $4,000 a year to be used in supporting and funding LGBTQIA+ focused clubs.

These funds will determined by the AS Queer Resource  Center upon a vote by the Community Engagement Coordinator and one representative from each of the queer and transgender-focused clubs in the AS.

Fourth-year Hunter Stuehm voiced concerns after a Students for Life of America event on Friday, May 9. The “Lies Feminists Tell” event was led by the national organization’s president Kristan Hawkins, and addressed abortion, birth control and education.

“I saw multiple incidents in which the speaker was treating students disrespectfully and not right,” Stuehm said. “There was one part where she pointed at a student who identified as non-binary and said ‘you have a womb, you are a woman.’”

Stuehm had strong concerns regarding the pro-life rhetoric Hawkins brought to Western, who was funded by the AS. The board agreed and addressed the approval of potential speakers and researching prior to events coming to Western. This would help prevent future events causing emotional and mental stress, board members agreed.

AS VP of academic affairs and AS student senate pro-tempore Levi Eckman addressed funding recommendations from students for the Student Technology Fee. The recommendation received full funding for 120 graphing calculators for students to check out for free.

“As we know, [General University Requirements] include Math 112 and Math 114, both of which you need graphing calculators for, which are very expensive,” Eckman said. “I am thrilled for students to get them now that they are funded in full.”

The STF will also provide funding for DSLR camera upgrades, digital microscopes for engineering courses and applications, music library listening station upgrades and more.

Western’s Racing and Data Acquisition team will also receive full funding due to their hard work and success in competitions, Eckman said.

The total STF recommended budget of around $192,00 passed unanimously and will fund equipment and ideas to further students’ success.

Budget amendment recommendations were discussed for the fiscal 2019-20 academic year. Amendments would raise the mandatory university fee, add three AS Outback Summer Apprentice positions and make changes to wage policy and structure for AS employees.

The budget will be an action item for the board on May 24, where the discussion will continue to be critically reviewed and voted on.

AS VP for business and operations Nate Jo proposed three different wage rate models with the goal of creating a more stable wage. The proposal is to implement a structured wage rate so that it does not fluctuate throughout the year, meaning that AS employees will have less of a wage gap to combat minimum wage inflation in 2020. 

As the meeting came to a close, AS VP for governmental affairs Natasha Hessami praised the AS Executive Board for all of their hard work over the past year. “It was a good year for higher education.”


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