The ASUCI Legislative Council passed two resolutions calling to add two fee initiatives to the ASUCI spring elections ballot — one for the SOAR Center and one for club sports — during last week’s meetings on March 4 and 6. The council also passed a third resolution regarding concerns with last week’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” event.
The SOAR Center legislation (Re 49-64) approved the Student Outreach and Retention Center initiative ballot language, which asks students to vote for a quarterly student fee to help maintain the SOAR Center’s operations in an effort to make the center permanent. If approved by students, each undergraduate would pay a $6.50 quarterly fee that would take effect in summer 2016 and sustain the center through fall 2041. This marks the second year in a row that the SOAR Center has campaigned for an initiative to secure the center’s future.
The SOAR Center reaches out underrepresented groups at local middle schools and high schools to educate them about UCI and the importance of higher education. Additionally, the center supports current students through a variety of resources and programs to help them feel comfortable and motivated to stay and succeed at UCI.
The SOAR Center welcomes all students regardless of major, background, or academic standing and is run by students, for students. Theza Umali, the campaigns volunteer coordinator, said that “most of us here are fighting for SOAR and if it wasn’t for SOAR, I would not feel as connected to campus.”
The Club Sport Spirit Initiative (R49-68) asks to decide on a $2.00 fee increase for this upcoming fall. If passed, the fee would increase every year by $0.50 it reaches $7.00.
Those in favor of the initiative feel that Club Sports is an important part of our campus because it includes any and all students who want to be athletes. However, one barrier to participating in these sports is cost. Currently, the Club Sports system is critically underfunded and students have to pay dues out of pocket to participate. Club sports dues go toward equipment, hiring a coach, and competing, they often turn to fundraising to help alleviate the cost burden facing student participants. However, fundraising cannot provide enough revenue to completely alleviate this burden. Club presidents have had to turn students away because of inability to pay dues.
This increase in the student fee would help alleviate cost to students interested in participating in club sports, but would not fully cover expenses. Students will still have to pay some dues, but the cost will be less and access to the programs will increase. The initiative will be in front of voters in the spring election.
The council also passed a formal recognition of student concerns regarding the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event (R49-69). The “In Her Shoes” event is a nationwide event where men walk a mile in high heels to get a feel for what it is like to be a woman. The goal of the event according to the national website is to “raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects and remediation to men’s sexualized violence towards women.”
Students found parts of the event to be problematic, leading to a letter and later legislation addressing the event. Six grievances were stated in the legislation in tandem with student concerns and they are listed as follows:
1. The event was founded by Frank Baird (a man):
2. The event at UCI specifically champions the Greek community as allies, which is suspect considering all the issues of sexual violence that occur time and time again at Greek events.
3. The event held last April drew many laughs and not actual awareness.
4. The event has strong themes of transmisogyny.
5. The event contributes to the sick idea that what defines a woman and what it means to be a woman is to wear high heels.
6. The event does not address rape, sexual violence or sexual assault whatsoever.
Members of the Greek community were present to address the ways in which they reframed the event after they received these grievances.
Alana Rotti, a coordinator for VIP (The Violence Intervention Prevention) Program, said “we hope[d] that the event would contribute to a more positive campus climate.”
After many students signed on to a letter pointing out issues with the event, the name was changed from “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” to “Walk a Mile for Empathy.”
Summer Ko, a fourth-year business student who drafted the letter in response to the event, was present at the legislative council meeting.
“I would like to leave this campus knowing that this event will never happen again.”
The legislative council meets Tuesday and Thursday in Woods Cove B & C from 5-7 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.
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