The resolution will stay, and SOAR will have a liaison to the Legislative Council.
Nov. 27 Legislative Council Meeting Recap
The ASUCI Legislative Council announced last Tuesday that they have upheld their decision regarding the divestment bill R48-15.
The Executive Cabinet, which includes the leaders of the five government offices, said in a statement that they have decided “as a unified cabinet” to uphold R48-15, despite a majority vote of 3-2. This statement is available on the ASUCI website.
This decision comes after two weeks of discussion and dozens of public comments from student groups, many of the ones against the resolution coming primarily from the Jewish student community. The UCI administration has also clearly distanced itself from the policy of the Legislative Council following the passing of the resolution on Nov. 13.
The Council on Tuesday also passed resolution R48-19, which calls for the creation of a committee on the Legislation Council that will help the Student Outreach and Retention Center (SOAR) with issues involving ASUCI.
SOAR is a student-initiated program created in the fall of 2011 that provides UCI students academic support; scholarship and job opportunities; personal wellness classes and sessions; help in future planning and assistance with the Anteater Mentorship Program.
Second-year Arit Akpan said SOAR is beneficial because it acts as a large student network on campus.
“I just want to say that SOAR is, for me it’s more of a family,” Akpan said. “I was introduced by a friend and since then I haven’t left. But more than a family it’s more like a network because the people you see here represented here, they’re from different organizations on campus.”
SOAR Director Graciel Fernandez also commented on SOAR’s record and its role as an institution that is bringing positive change to UCI.
“We’ve only been here at UCI for one year and the work that we’ve been doing has been amazing and I don’t take credit for it because it’s all been because of students,” Fernandez said. “And I think that that’s one of the contributions that SOAR has been making to this campus it is a student-run place — a center where the students are at the forefront, making decisions about how we all can contribute to outreach and retention.”
With the Council’s approval, the resolution creates a committee under the Legislative Council Advocacy Committee and will act as a liaison between Legislative Council and SOAR.
After the vote passed there was talk among the Council members about a proposed referendum regarding SOAR’s finances. SOAR’s funds will run out next year unless there is new revenue. The referendum calls for an increase in student fees by $4.50 per quarter in order to fund SOAR and its programs. A similar referendum was introduced two years ago but was not passed by the students during elections. While the Council favored the referendum, the decision to pass it will rest with the student body in the spring elections.
Students will be able to take a class in lobbying in winter quarter for all those interested in learning how to lobby state representatives on behalf of students. The class has been offered in the past and will be taught by the Director of the Lobby Core for the Office of the Executive Vice President, Nam Doan.
ASUCI offers the class to introduce lobbying to college students and to train future lobbyists. The Legislative Branch Coordinator for the Office of the Executive Vice President, Megan Valladao, is actively involved in the lobbying for students. She worked with Doan last year and will help prepare future student lobbyists. She laid out the why the class would be a good introduction for potential lobbyists at UCI.
“Basically why we do it is because we have a conference every year, it’s called Sacramento Lobby Conference, also known as the Student Lobby Conference, basically it’s setting up students to go on this conference,” Doan said. “It’s really to make students more aware of student lobbying efforts on a state wide level.”
Valladao said the class would also be a good introduction to lobbying to students because they will be doing work that is similar to what she does currently.
“As an office, we meet with legislators every quarter, everyone that is in our district,” she said. “So it’s really just advocating and promoting what we do in the office but on a campus wide level.”
Valladao believes the class does a good job in preparing future lobbyists. She took the class last year and enjoyed it. She recommends that anyone who is interested in government to give it a try because it does a good job in breaking down government and how people can bring about change.
“I really liked the class, you just learn about lobbying when it comes to the basics,” she said. “They break it down into really simple forms so that you can understand it, they also teach you how the budget works, how it affects the UC system, how it affects the state as a whole. They break down lobbying and how student efforts have actually helped.”
ASUCI is currently working to get the class set up and registered on WebReg. Once this is completed, students can then find the course code for the class on the ASUCI website. The course offers 1.3 units and can only be taken for Pass/No Pass. Those interested also need to get an authorization code from ASUCI and can get it from Executive Vice President Andrea Gaspar by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.