Letter to the Editor: ASUAF Senate: The human centipede

My first area of concern to share with you is my recent resignation from the ASUAF senate as of March 4, 2018. I ultimately finalized my decision based on the negligence of myself and the issues that I attempted to address while in office as a senator.

The first piece of legislation that I composed, SB 189-039 (Professional Development through Mandatory Trainings), was first considered on Dec. 3, 2017. I am concerned with the outcome of this bill due to the fact that I believe it is absolutely necessary. It has been neglected for approximately three, advancing into four months. I strongly believe that this bill has been neglected due to lack of motivation among the senate to improve outright laziness and the color of the person from which it originated.

This bill was developed by myself in response to concerns of transphobia within the senate.Training was suggested as a productive avenue and I recognized that minority demographics are not highly represented on our campus or within our senate.

In response to this lack of representation, I originally suggested mandatory SafeZone training and GreenDot Bystander training for senators in an attempt to begin to address a much larger issue. The ASUAF senate does not currently have any mandated trainings in place to ensure the safety and consideration of the students who they are sworn to represent.

I attempted to remain encouraged and keep student advocacy in mind during my time in office; however, the environment was not welcoming to those with professionalism and the credentials that proves their commitment to the student body. Instead, success within the ASUAF senate is earned through nepotism among senators.

I spoke with multiple professionals regarding the bill, and taking the input of Diversity and Prevention Coordinator Amy Cross, Student Activities Coordinator Lisa Latronica, Resident Director and Student Conduct Administrator Paige LaPoint and Transition Programs Coordinator Ronnie Houchin, into consideration I drafted a “B” version of the bill.

The “B” version provided two training categories: diversity and prevention. This made it so each category contained two trainings to choose from, and senators had the option of choosing one training from each category. The trainings listed under those categories were: Green Dot Bystander training (Violence prevention) QPR training (Suicide prevention) and SafeZone training (LGBTQ+),and Racial Equity training.

At the senate meeting on March 4, 2018 Senator Brooke Bolduc and I attempted to discharge the bill SB 189-039 to the senate floor where it could be discussed among the senate. This was due to the fact that it was first considered on Dec. 3, 2017 and had sat in the Internal Affairs Committee for approximately 3 months unedited.

Our concerns were disregarded, and we were met with responses that made the committee seem proactive and hardworking in relation to this bill. When it came time to vote on the motion to discharge the bill, Sen. Bolduc and I stood alone, and the bill was decided to remain in the Internal Affairs Committee.

I announced my resignation following that decision.

This was not the only experience that I had in the senate that made me question my value as a senator and notice of the negligence towards people of color and underrepresented demographics. Senator Esau Sinnok and I decided to run for the senate as a team for Spring 2017 seats. Sinnok received 509 votes and I received 491 votes from the student body. This was not accomplished with the help of any campaigning or persuading of the public.

Together Sinnok and I received a total of 1,000 votes. Those results alone told me that I could make a difference on the senate. If approximately 1/6 of the on-campus population believed in two people of color who had no prior voice in ASUAF, serious change could be accomplished.

I observed active negligence of Sinnok from multiple senators. Despite his activism within the Alaskan Native community and experience with legislation and government processes he was not acknowledged as someone worthy of consideration for leadership or expansion opportunities. There is also a lack of ideological diversity within the senate due to a plethora of right-leaning senators with no empathy or consideration for those who do not directly align with their beliefs.

In all honesty, I feel that I have the wrong color of skin to be treated with respect in the ASUAF Senate. Reactions towards me from other senators became increasingly negative the more that I pushed for senate professionalism and positive change. Despite my progressive legislation and obvious commitment to the student body, I was never regarded as a leader, and senators with less credentials moved to higher positions quickly.

I was actively denied positions and the chance to advance within the senate unless my service was geared towards making others look better in their positions. I was verbally attacked during my time in the senate and my concerns and points of information were steadily met with eye rolls and muttering.

Legislation that I composed included: SB 189-039 Professional Development through Mandatory Trainings, SB 190-004 ASUAF Annual Food Drive, SR 190-002 Installation of Diaper Changing Station Signage and SR 190-001 Providing Equal Access To Diaper Changing Stations. Following my resignation, I requested for all legislation that I personally composed be removed from the senate, and be considered invalid.

Due to the nature of the ASUAF senate, I highly doubt that my plea will be considered. They will be able to take credit for and alter the work of someone that they failed to recognize while in office.

Topics that I attempted to advocate for and address during my time in office included: Developing collaboration between ASUAF and various professional offices, (Nanook Diversity and Action Center, Student Activities Office and The Office of Admissions) developing the professionalism of senators, introducing mandatory trainings to ensure an inclusive environment, providing support for the Wood Center Food Pantry, the installation of diaper changing stations in mens and unisex restrooms, and the reinstallation of student perks and discounts.

Plans that I had for the near future included: developing an annual scholarship, introducing utilization of the fair use policy as an academic standard, and providing an annual donation in support of the Festival of Native Arts.

The choice of resignation, although my own was ultimately decided by members of the senate who actively made the environment more and more unwelcoming. The ASUAF senate is not a place for people of color or any underrepresented demographic to thrive. I come to you as a student, a Student Ambassador, a representative of the Nanook Diversity and Action Center and as a former ASUAF senator.

Thank you for your time in advance.


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