Addressing student fee adjustments

At the senate meeting on April 15, student government was visited by representatives from Student Affairs, DRAW, Student Health and Counseling Services, and Transportation Services. The staff members as well as Vice Chancellor Champagne joined the meeting to answer questions about student fee adjustments over the last year and projected into next year’s fees.

The Student Affairs representatives discussed the Student Life fee which contributes to SAO and student organization funding. The fee is currently $45 at CTC and $50 at UAF for students taking three or more credits. For next year this fee will increase at an overall rate of six percent.

DRAW Representative Mark Oldmixon addressed the SRC fee increase. The fee increase, $135 for UAF students and $75 for CTC students, will primarily help with improvements to the facilities, funding OA trips, increasing DRAW operations and staffing, and creating more wellness and ice rink programming.

The Student Health and Counseling Services fees are projected to be $150 for students taking six credits during fall and spring semesters, and $100 for summer students for next fiscal year.

Parking, shuttle services, head-bolt repair, and lot maintenance are the main concerns for Transportation Services. The Transportation Services fee costs students $22 for anyone taking three or more credits per semester.

Call For Senator Resignation

During Director Melissa Clark’s officer report she passed around a letter requesting Sen. Daniel Dougherty to resign from the senate on claims of evidence of his unwillingness to represent the student body to the best of his ability, which is in direct violation of ASUAF’s bylaws and constitution for elected or appointed officials.

Election Results

Congratulations were given to next year’s president and vice president pairing, Dawson Mann and Melissa Clark. The elected senators for next year are Kristopher Voronin, Sierra von Hafften, Lisa Gilbert, Jack DeCorso, Chiebuka Lebechi, Taylor Seitz and Benson Hoover.

Socratic Society

Bill SB 190-026 in support for UAF Socratic Society: Philosophy Club was passed unanimously by the senate to assist the club in funding for their annual Ethics Bowl, which will occur on April 28 in the UAF ballroom.




Senators debate bringing condoms to campus

There was quite a commotion at the senate meeting on April 8. Generation Action: Students for Reproductive Justice at UAF was represented by club co-president Brit Broadworth-Suckow and club member Kelvin Rogers. Generation Action’s proposed request was for $1,000 from ASUAF to fund the purchase and installation of 10 condom dispensers around campus so students have easier access to protection for if and when they partake in consenting sexual activity.

A member from Planned Parenthood was present to inform the senate of their main concern, which is that, according to the Center for Disease Control, Alaska has the highest rates of STD’s in the country. The majority of these rates are present within people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Other guests present included Club Council member, John Dougherty, and Arctic Student’s for Life member Leslie McEwen. Dougherty attended the meeting to suggest the bill SB 190-024 for the support of Generation Action’s initiative be tabled until more information can be gathered. McEwen raised concerns about the bill and where its outcomes would lead, questioning if giving students access to condom dispensers would lead to Plan B vending machines.

The Plan B insinuation was rejected by the senate members because of the unlikelihood that UAF would take such action. The expensiveness of the product and the irrelevance to the main initiative of Generation Action is merely to take precautionary action to avoid further breakout of STD’s and STI’s on campus.

As of now, the only access that students have to condoms are at the UAF Health and Counseling Center, which is open during business hours on the weekday, or students have to venture off-campus to buy them. Also, some resident assistants on campus hand them out at dorm events or upon request. Concern was raised students might not take advantage of these options because of the emotional discomfort.

Broadworth-Suckow commented that “if students don’t have money for food, then why would they have money for condoms” to the suggestion that, instead, UAF should make condoms available for sale at the Campus Cache.

Sen. Boswell questioned: “Why are we funding this?” By “we” he was referring to ASUAF. To this Director Clark replied that this is a student affairs issue and that ASUAF in the past used to provide this service for students, so why not now?

8,000 condoms have already been donated to Generation Action by Planned Parenthood. They informed the senate that even if they were not given the funding by ASUAF they would still continue with their initiative as best as they can.

A motion was made twice to end the discussion of the bill, and finally after copious debate the movement was passed and the senate moved on to vote. Fortunately for Generation Action, the senate passed their bill with a majority vote.

Support for Japan Alaska Club

The Japan Alaska club requested funding from ASUAF to take exchange students to Chena Hot Springs. This bill passed unanimously.

Faculty and Staff Awards

Congratulations to Sherri Wall and Kaydee Van Flein for being chosen as the recipients for the faculty and staff awards, respectively.




Food for thought, addressing students needs on campus

The senate meeting held on April 1 was considered to be, according to the Office Manager Kori Hensell, one of the shortest meetings she has been to. Aside from brevity, the meetings primary agenda involved the appointment of a new member to the Food for Thought committee. Sen. Diana Ramstad was confirmed to the committee on a majority vote after ample prompting by sens. Benjamin Boswell, Audrey Kirby, and Sierra von Hafften on her platform for improvements to the FFT committee’s agenda.

“We’re here to help students,” Ramstad stated after concluding her poised renunciation of reasons for wanting to joining the FFT committee.

Sen. Ramstad identified four major problems she would like to see addressed. Firstly, the “one size fits all” tendency of the campus dorms. Secondly, the exorbitant pricing at the campus cache and lack thereof of desired items. Thirdly, Ramstad would like to see birth control discussed more on campus and for students to have more adequate ways to obtain birth control and condoms. Finally, she would like to improve on student access and knowledge of the food pantry on campus.

On A Second Reading

The bill SB 190-018 was passed unanimously by the senate, a bill meant to cut costs by combining the positions of senate clerk and ASUAF office assistant to create a new position, namely, ASUAF clerk. This suggested consolidation of positions would account for an approximate decrease of $30,000 to ASUAF’s subsequent fiscal year budget.

The compounding of staff positions and conservation of funds is a campus-wide phenomenon weaving its way into all parts of UAF’s academic lives even to the point of touching the student government. This bill is purely a bylaw change of position, as stated by Office Manager Hensell, and will not affect the current budget.

Auxiliary Business

This next Sunday, senators will be choosing their top picks for the ASUAF Faculty and Staff awards. Each year one member of the UAF staff and one faculty member are honored with this reward at an event on April 21. The requirements for these rewards are quite broad, though concern was raised about whether the faculty reward is open to adjunct professors. It was assumed that any and all instructors would be considered.




Advocacy and involvement voiced at student government forum

A large focus at the student government candidate forums was centered on student advocacy, the desire to get more students involved in student government and campus activities and to address the needs of students across campus.

The two forums were hosted on Tuesday, April 3 and Wednesday, April 4 from 1-2 p.m. in the multi-level lounge of the Wood Center. The crowd that gathered on both days was small. Among half the attendees were members of the ASUAF senate, a testament to the lack of general student interest candidates were voicing at the forum.

There was some tension that could be felt at the forum. Current senator, Diana Ramstad was in the audience and addressed the candidates with concerns of how this tension will be resolved in the future, and what will be done to better collaborate with one another.

“What’s your plan [after election] to work properly with other senators to get things done?” asked Ramstad, directing the question toward the candidates running for senator. “Are you going to show up to commit? It takes a lot of work to do this.”

Sen. Elect Kristopher Voronin was the first to address the question.

“My plan is to be respectful to other senators; there’s no reason to be rude,” he said. “We’re all here and working together to accomplish tasks.”

Sen. Elect Lisa Gilbert expressed the importance of working as a collective.

“Everyone has their own opinion; everyone is going to have their own opinion and not agree with everyone all the time, and that’s fine as long as you remain respectful,” she said.

Sen. Elect Chiebuka Lebechi stated that everyone comes from different backgrounds.

“We should put aside our diversity and focus on the issues,” Lebechi said.

Ramstad expressed concern over the qualifications of President Elect Daniel Vaziri, pointing out that he has failed to appear to any of the senate and committee meetings in the past.

“I haven’t been to the meetings. I was on club council, but I wasn’t able to go because I started a job,” Vaziri said. He said he hadn’t been to the office much either.

“Realistically, when I was senator—I think it was for a whole two weeks.

“I tried to pass five bills, but the senate completely rejected all of them,” Vaziri continue. “The senate was working in the interest of the students, so at that time the students apparently didn’t want those bills past.”

Vaziri did not address what these bills were.

Just prior to Vaziri having been asked this question, Gilbert stressed the importance of showing up to meetings and being on time. Lebechi and Voronin each mentioned their consistent ability to attend meetings, emphasizing their willingness to work hard within the student government. President Elect Dawson Mann also stated that a failure to attend meetings “can hurt ASUAF.”

Questions were asked addressing overall character of the candidates running for office. Dawson Mann’s running mate, Vice President Elect Melissa Clark, described herself as a hard-worker and being in it for the challenge. She also recounted her ability to take on a five-person job all on her own when organizing a fair on the Kenai Peninsula.

President Elect Mann addressed a question by the forum moderator regarding his cynical demeanor in meetings being published in previous issues of The Sun Star. He pressed, that regardless of his cynicism, members of the student government still come to him for advice.

“[I am] hoping to have less cynical comments because the senate will be less deserving of them,” Mann said.

Vaziri focused on letting students know the student body will benefit from his and his running-mate, Chris Martinez, rejecting presidential pay, though he never discussed how that money will be handled or what steps will need to be taken to allow that to happen administratively or if it were, indeed, possible.

Matt Roberts stepped up from the audience and directed a concern over Vaziri and Martinez’s statements regarding their pay.

“It’s kind of dangerous to moralize salary as a president as being a talking point,” said Roberts. “You should be compensated for the work you’re actually doing. What would you do to reinstate the salary?”

Roberts continued to explain the issue with budget cuts and that often, when funds get cut, those funds don’t always come back.

“We’re not cutting the pay out,” Vaziri responded. “We’re just not going to accept the pay. […] I don’t need the money right now. That’s why I want to do this. I want to be able to give back more.”

Presidential candidates were asked whether ASUAF should remain completely student-run or if there should be more collaboration with the administration. There was a shared sentiment that student government should remain student-run, but there was also an understanding that working with the administration could be beneficial.

“ASUAF is by the students and for the students,” said Clark. “If we join forces with the university and do not remain a private entity, our vision can alter. […] It makes sense that we are in collaboration with the university just to represent the students at a better stance.”

The ability to represent the student body was an important topic among the candidates. What can be agreed upon is the need for representation of student diversity in the student government office to support this.

“It’s important to get outreach out,” said President Elect Mann. “It’s important to change our image to work to improve ASUAF so people come to us.”

Clark expressed her desires to get upper campus more involved. The sentiment of inclusivity echoed with other candidates.

“If we outreach to upper campus student more, we will also get the people who live off campus as well,” said Clark. “I believe that all of these aspects play into a better student government because we don’t just get [one] perspective. We get an overall perspective of what the students want for the university.”

“Diversity reaches back to inclusivity,” Gilbert added. “It’s really important that every student, no matter the background, whether it’s LBGT, different race, or another religion, whatever they are, they come to our school to be a part of the student body. The most important thing is that they are included.”

For more information on the elections, visit the student government’s website. Students can vote on Orgsync through Thursday, April 12.




Senators stress involvement, deliberate legislative language

The Senate meeting held on Feb. 11 resulted in the appointment of a new senator: Chiebuka Lebechi. Lebechi is a first year student at UAF and has background in serving on student government while in high school. He has also worked as a parliamentarian and is currently working as a peer mentor through Residence Life.

Part of Lebechi’s platform while in office is increasing the level of student involvement in ASUAF. This could be in the form of students attending meetings, participating in polls to voice their concerns, or even visiting the ASUAF office more frequently, Lebchi said.

Second Reading

Although the bill SB 189-040B, addressing grammatical quality standards within legislation failed by a unanimous vote, the senate agreed that the bill should serve as a warning to urge senators to submit properly worded and formatted legislation only. Multiple concerns were expressed with the professionalism of legislation.

Senator Benjamin Boswell reminded the senate that the senator handbook serves as a resource for composing legislation. Senate Chair Samuel Mitchell followed this statement by encouraging the Senate to collaborate more often on legislation to avoid mistakes.

Office Manager Kori Hensell shared that she is willing to be an open resource to proofreading and editing legislation prior to submission. This bill was composed based on a lack of legislation quality within the senate the previous semester.

Senator Training

The senate meeting on Feb. 18 was cancelled due to the lack of senator attendance. Multiple senators committed to attending Green Dot Bystander Training from 1-5 p.m. on Feb. 18 instead.




Senate invited to leadership conference, volunteer opportunities

The Senate meeting held on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 4:18 p.m. took place in the Student Leadership and Involvement (SLI) conference room 101G.

Heidi Shepard, the Student Involvement Coordinator attended the meeting as a guest to extend an invitation to the Senate to participate in the leadership conference organized by the SLI office. Taking place on Friday, Feb. 9 from 6 – 9 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 10 from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the Wood Center ballroom.

Shepard informed the Senate that there are volunteer opportunities at the food bank every Wednesday. Volunteering can lead to the earning of a Co-curricular Opportunities for Leadership Development (COLD) Certificate.

A COLD Certificate is designed to help students be recognized for their leadership roles while at UAF. The certificate also gives students an opportunity to graduate with “Leadership Honors or “Leadership Distinctions.”

Transportation to and from the food bank will also be provided. Departure from the Wood Center takes place at 2:15 p.m. and departure from the food bank takes place at 4 p.m.

Leadership book club will also be taking place this semester. SLI and Nanook Diversity and Action Center (NDAC) have partnered to have a club and cultural fair that will take place during Winter Carnival on Thursday, Feb. 22.

For more information on any of the events listed above please contact the Student Leadership and Involvement Office at sli@alaska.edu.

Raven Palmer is a student senator at ASUAF.




Bill confusion addressed in senate

At the Senate meeting held on Sunday, Jan. 28 there was overall confusion over the two bills: SB 189-044 (Standing Committee Chairs Following Senate Chair’s Lead) and SB 189-045 (Senator Absences Self Reporting) that were discharged favorably from the Internal Affairs committee. While reviewing SB 189044 Sen. Hannah Smith said she didn’t recall seeing this bill previously and commented that the wording is incorrect and unclear.

While reviewing SB 189-045 Boswell said he didn’t remember reading the bill.

“I have no idea what this bill is referring to,” Sen Benjamin Boswell expressed.

Multiple senators expressed the same concern.

“You’re required to report absences in the committee meeting notes, and you are required to give those notes to the senate chair. There is no point to this bill,” Vice President Dawson Mann said.

Sen. Boswell asked why the bills were discharged favorably.

“I guess we didn’t look at them closely,” Internal Affairs Committee Chair Daniel Dougherty responded. The bill was sent back to the Internal Affairs committee. PR Director Melissa Clark confirmed that the bills were addressed on Dec. 10, 2017 and stated that approximately 20 bills were reviewed that day.

SB189-047 (Updating Senator Handbook (Updating Senator Handbook) failed 0-6-2, SB 190-001 (Changes to the Student Commencement Speaker Committee Bylaws) passed 7-0-1

Committee Reports

Student affairs committee discharged their first bill SB189-038 under their new chair Sen. Hannah Smith favorably. They also addressed the fact that student government perks and discounts are expired for the time being; therefore, the committee will be working towards restarting the program.

Internal Affairs committee discussed SB 189-039 that week and the committee members decided to take the proposed training, such as Green Dot Bystander Training and SafeZone.

Sen. Diana Ramstad said that she doesn’t think that Internal Affairs should be taking the trainings first, and she has expressed this repeatedly in the committee meetings. Instead, she believes that the senators as a whole should be attending the trainings.

Other Business

Director Aoto expressed that the main goal of his position as Resource and Advocacy Director is to interpret university policy and represent students, not to change those policies. Aoto followed that statement by encouraging senators to write resolutions to change policies that may be outdated or not representative of the student body.

Officer Reports

Public Relations Director Clark reported that the ASUAF event Feedback Fridays will no longer take place in the Hess Rec but instead will take place in front of Moore, Bartlett and Skarland Halls every Friday from 8-9 p.m. This will give students a chance to express their concerns and receive free ice cream.

For more information regarding the legislation discussed in this article please refer to the ASUAF list serve, Agenda 190B.

Raven Palmer is a student senator at ASUAF.




First senate meeting of semester sees appointments

At the senate meeting held on Sunday Jan. 21 at 4:09 p.m., Senate Chair Samuel Mitchell entertained a motion to amend the agenda to add nominations for the Student Affairs Committee Chair under consideration of appointments.

Concerns as to whether or not it was a good choice to make a decision on a new Student Affairs committee chair were voiced by Senator Sierra Von Hafften. This was based on the fact that there were senators that were missing from the meeting at that time.

The matter was settled quickly by Vice President Mann who stated: “For a point of information, our bylaws state that the replacement for chair positions will be decided at the next regular senate meeting. The rules just say at the next regular meeting, so just follow the rules.”

Oath Of Office

Elected Senators Audrey Kirby and Samuel Nicholes took their oaths of office and business resumed. Brian Reggiani, one of the guests in attendance, introduced himself as being interested in being appointed to to the Review of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Energy Board.

Consideration of Appointments

The senate took time to look over Reggianis resume, which highlighted his employment at UAF Department of Recreation and Wellness as an Outdoor Adventures Student Assistant and four semesters on the Chancellors list. His appointment was moved to the Executive Committee to be reviewed further.

Senator Hannah Smith was nominated by Sen. Von Hafften to become the new Student Affairs committee chair, which was then seconded by Senator Diana Ramstad. Smith’s appointment was moved to confirmation of appointments for voting.

Officer Reports

Senate Chair Mitchell stated he is working hard to track down the travel applications and other various bills lost from that week of the previous semester.

Both President Molly O’Scannell and Vice President Dawson Mann accomplished the hiring of the new Government Relations Director Jack Decorso, who attended the first senate meeting of the semester and voiced his eagerness to begin his new position.

Student Advocacy Director Bernard Aoto opened the ASUAF office on Jan. 14 in support of New Student Orientation, where he gave each group of students an overview of what ASUAF has to offer and his position.

Confirmation of Appointments

The vote that took place in appointing Senator Smith as the new Student Affair committee chair was unanimous.

Adjournment

ASUAF Senate meeting times were reiterated and confirmed to continue to take place at 4 p.m. on Sundays, and the meeting was adjourned at 4:41 p.m. The meeting, the first official one of 2018, lasted only 32 minutes, a record time for student government this school year.




Senators address infighting, US Congress bill

Senate Infighting

This week, senators largely discussed the influx of bills from last week, as well as an additional ten bills that were sponsored by Sen. Gabriel Madore. The majority of these bills were likewise small changes to bylaws and a variety of grammatical changes and clarifications.

“The Internal Affairs Committee said that they were going to finish updating the bylaws of the end of the semester,” said Madore, “and we had trouble completing all those bills in committee. I took it on myself to write all those bills on my own time, and sponsored them myself,”

Senators raised issues with several of these bills for not including the bylaws within the body, or various other errors including copy/pasting and grammatical mistakes. Two of these bills were expedited to the second reading with the express purpose of voting them down early.

“I think this bill is, somebody give me a kind word for stupid?” said Vice President Dawson Mann in response to one of the bills.

Later in the meeting there was discussion concerning Mann’s various comments on bylaws both during this session, as well as during the previous one, with a motion being made by Madore to revoke Mann’s speaking privileges for the duration of the meeting. The motion did not pass, although there were several comments made by some of the senators on the subject.

“I would be willing to make a request to Vice President Mann, to please refrain from some of the belittling remarks that you have as Senator Madore has pointed out,” said Sen. Ben Boswell. “Although I will put in the caveat that I do find them very amusing.”

At the start of the session, Senate Chair Samuel Mitchell also addressed infighting that had been going on in the office.

“It was brought to my attention that there’s just some backstabbing going on in the office between some specific senators and other members of the office, some executives, and it was not looked on as good for the office environment. And so certain senators are just avoiding the office now, because it’s just not a healthy environment,” said Mitchell. “Not all senators have each other’s backs here, we’re just not supporting each other. And there’s a certain extent you may not be able to support other people’s opinions, but as a team you have to always think about what’s best for those others, and talking behind their backs is not what’s best.”

Opposition to the Tax Cuts and Job Acts Bill

In addition, the senators voted to expedite a bill to show their official opposition to parts of the Tax Cuts and Job Acts Bill that was recently introduced to the United States Congress. The senate reached this decision after discussing how this bill could hurt students in colleges across the nation, including here at UAF, by making tuition waivers taxable income for graduate students.

Senators voted unanimously to send a statement to United States Congress and the Alaskan representatives voicing their problems with the proposed bill.

$50 to be Given to Two Committees at Start of Year

Finally, the Senate voted to grant the Student Affairs Committee and the Senate Public Relations Committee each $50 in funds at the start of each academic year. This was done in order to help support events that these committees might want to put on at the start of the year.




Student government releases election results

The university’s student government election for next semester concluded with all seven of the open seats being filled. The total voter turnout has more than tripled since the Fall 2015 election, which had a 4.6 percent turnout.

A total of 16.7 percent of the eligible voters on campus voted. Voter turnout has risen over the past few year, with the vote for president and vice president of the 2017 Spring semester having a 16.4 percent turnout, after the Fall 2016 election saw a 7.4 percent turnout.

This year’s election, eight people ran for the seven open seats on the senate. Gabriel Madore was the only senator running who was not elected, earning 264 votes out of 762 ballots cast.

Receiving the most votes was Audrey Kirby, with a total of 351 votes. A biology major, she focused on dining services and diversity while running for election.

“I plan to work with Chartwells and Dining Services to make it more affordable and better quality for students. Throughout my term I will be an active member of the Senate, I will the address the problems that students face,” Kirby said. “I appreciate our diverse student body and I hope to represent students of all backgrounds.”

Brooke Bolduc, a biology major running for re-election, got the second most votes with 349, pushing for equality and diversity on campus.

“Today is transgender remembrance day, I’m definitely thinking about some of my friends that I’ve lost over time as you may be thinking of some of yours.”, Bolduc said. “Overall I just want to make this campus more diverse and just more diverse in its function I want the community to overall stop seeing people as numbers or whatever it is we’re seeing people as, everyone is a human being at the end of the day. I wish life was rainbows and butterflies, but it’s not, and it’s really unfortunate that it can’t be that way.”

Hannah James, who is currently pursuing a double degree in music performance and physics, came in third with 345 votes.

“I’m from Washington, D.C. I’m not from around here, and I’m interested in learning why every student here came to UAF and what they want to get out of this, because what you put into it is what you get out of it. I’m also really passionate about making a change,” Smith said.

“I’m interested in representing the current students of UAF and all students that come after us, the future ones,” she continued. “How can we make campus a better place, how can we improve the quality of life here, and that’s something I’m really interested in.”

In addition, Hannah Smith, Diana Ramstad, Samuel Mitchell, and Samuel Nicholes all received a majority of votes, and were elected to seats on next semester’s senate.