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The Daily Wildcat


ASUA Notebook 9/29/2021: Will Vega deliver on housing for homeless students?

Pascal Albright
ASUA is the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the university’s undergraduate student governing body, met on Sept. 29, to discuss a potential solution to housing insecurity, a new mental health hotline for online students and the hiring of a new treasurer.

The meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m. and adjourned at 7:18 p.m. The Senate gathered in the Madera room of the Student Union Memorial Center and over Zoom.

According to ASUA’s post-meeting minutes, three senators were marked absent during roll call: Lady Dorothy Elli, an at-large senator, Jack Haskins, senator for the College of Fine Arts and Swathi Ramkumar, senator for the College of Engineering.

Housing for homeless students

Noah Vega, ASUA student body president, discussed his aspiration to provide housing to students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. He will meet with the head of Housing and Residence Life to discuss options with vacant dorm rooms.

“If we have the space, (in dorms) what’s the issue with housing a student on campus?” Vega said. 

Vega said he wants to work out a plan this year and eventually put one in place to provide a home for students that need it.

24-hour counseling for online students

Vega also aided in starting a free 24/7 counseling service with licensed professional counselors for online and distanced students. 

Students enrolled in UA Online and Distance campuses can call 1-833-251-9941 anytime to speak with a counselor about their mental health. 

Vega is looking to expand this service to all undergraduate students at the UA. The largest barrier is that “there’s over 30,000 students and not enough therapists,” but is hoping to get that resolved.

Vega chose to focus on mental health this year since the pandemic placed a strain on many people.

“I thought, ‘How can I use this position to work with other students,’” Vega said, “and I think it’s the university’s obligation to at least help students … at least a basic resource for mental health.”

RELATED: UAZ Divest challenges UA’s $64 million investment in fossil fuels

Treasurer hired

Vega interviewed two applications for treasurer this week and hired Chaitanya Ranade, who has been previously involved with ASUA.

“He has great work experience and could incorporate the past work experience with the duty and responsibility,” Vega said. 

The treasurer oversees financial tracking of all clubs and organizations along with the executive vice president.

Eight senator positions remain open

The senate still has eight openings in the colleges of Medicine, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Humanities, Applied Science and Technology, Optical Science, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine and the Mel and Enid College of Public Health.

The applications are posted on Handshake for interested students in the respective colleges. 

Ally Devereux, ASUA executive vice president, said they are spreading the word via group chats, word of mouth and having colleges email students about the positions. 

They are also looking to hire a chief of staff and one more club advocate by next week. There are applicants to be reviewed, but the application closes on Handshake Oct. 1 at 5 p.m.

Notable mentions

Club registration closed Friday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. Ex Officio Assistant Dean of Students, Sylvester Gaskin, said that 289 clubs were approved and 82 are in the queue as of today. The application will reopen for clubs next April.

“We want to streamline the process next year to make it easier for clubs to register,” Gaskin said.

Vega, Devereux and Kyle Kline, ASUA administrative vice president, are planning to meet with the heads of the UA Foundation to further discuss the UAZ Divest resolution.

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