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The Daily Wildcat


ASUA Notebook 02/08/23: Senate addresses accessibility, funding requests

Jasmine Ma
Want an inside look at the University of Arizona’s student government? Read the Daily Wildcat’s Associated Students of the University of Arizona notebooks, which recap the ASUA Senate’s weekly meetings.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona met on Wednesday, Feb. 8 to discuss the accessibility accommodations resolution and senate funding requests from several student organizations in its longest meeting to date.

Accessibility Accommodation Resolution

The senate publicly discussed resolution S5004, “A resolution for senators to require Accessibility Accommodations and Sustainable Design at ASUA Programs and Events.”

The resolution was introduced at the Feb. 1 senate meeting, during which members of the UA women’s wheelchair basketball team and the Disability Cultural Center presented concerns about the inaccessibility of ASUA-sponsored events. Senate President Amy Gaudet is one of the resolution’s co-authors.

“It’s not just about making sure that students with disabilities can physically get to the space. It is about making sure that the event is one that allows for them to meaningfully participate in it,” Gaudet said.

The resolution would ensure that Bear Down Camp and the Wildcat Events Board are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines for Temporary Event Accessibility and Disability Resource Center Accessibility Guidelines. The organizations would be required to consult with the DRC and the DCC “to make adjustments that ensure meaningful participation.”

Currently, clubs must provide a 100-word statement describing how they plan to make their activity accessible in order to receive funding from the appropriations board or to receive temporary event funding from the ASUA senate. S5004 would make sure that the reported plan is enforced, which Sen. Gaudet said is an issue.

The resolution would also form an Accessibility Committee to review the policies and procedures of ASUA and ASUA-affiliated organizations and determine if they meet minimum accessibility guidelines. The committee would consist of two representatives from the DCC, two representatives from the DRC, one representative from the ASUA Senate, one representative from the club appropriations board, two representatives from the events board and two representatives from Bear Down Camp.

Senators raised issues regarding language and the definition of certain terms used in the resolution, including “meaningful participation.” ASUA will hold a meeting with members of the DRC and DCC to discuss further revisions to the document.

DCC Director Naty Rico voiced her support for the resolution during the call-to-audience portion of the meeting.

“I’m very much in support of this resolution, and as the director of the center I’ve had many students come to me stating this lack of a sense of belonging on campus because oftentimes they can’t participate in events like the club fair last week,” Rico said.

Dani Lucchese, programs and training graduate assistant at the DCC, expressed support for the resolution alongside Rico.

“I’m also a Ph.D. student at the [UA] who really wants to participate on campus, and I find it hard to do that as someone with a mobility disability as well as a visual impairment. So for example, when I used to table, it’s usually in grassy spots, which means that I’m now at risk of falling and hurting myself on university property,” Lucchese said.

The senate moved to table the resolution until its next meeting on Feb. 15, at which it is expected to vote on it.

Senate Funding Requests

Over half of the two-hour senate meeting was spent discussing several funding requests from student organizations. While clubs normally request funding from ASUA’s appropriations board, groups may also appeal to the senate directly for funding not covered by the board.

The senate addressed requests from SPURS sophomore honorary, the National Society of Black Engineers, Army ROTC, Freshman Class Council and the Student Health Advocacy Committee.

SPURS honorary requested $795 at the Feb. 1 senate meeting to cover some of the costs of its upcoming capture-the-flag philanthropy event for the Ronald McDonald House charity. $375 of the request was for group liability insurance. The remaining $420 of the request would pay for commemorative event t-shirts for SPURS members.

The senate voted unanimously to fund only the insurance portion of the request and elected not to fund the t-shirts. The philanthropy event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18 on Sitton Field from 3-8 p.m.

The UA chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers requested $500 to help fund its trip to the 49th annual NSBE convention. Neb Seged, a chemical engineering senior and NSBE member, said that the funding would help to rebuild the organization after a lapse in activity.

“We started with one Black engineer in May, and now we have 32. What we pride ourselves on, and the mission of the National Society of Black Engineers, is to promote the number of engineers who are culturally responsible, succeed academically, excel professionally and positively impact the community,” Seged said.

The funding would pay for five members to attend the convention and get access to internships and job opportunities, learn from the organization’s executive board and build connections with other chapters across the country. The last time the group attended the national conference was in 2019.

The senate voted unanimously to approve the request. The convention will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, from March 22-26.

Representatives from the Army ROTC program requested $4,992 to support lodging costs for 64 cadets to attend a “staff ride” trip, which is a requirement for cadets to graduate.

According to Army University Press, a staff ride is “a historical study of a campaign or battle that envisions a systematic preliminary study, an extensive visit to campaign sites, and an opportunity to integrate lessons derived from each.”

This year’s staff ride would take cadets to San Diego, California, to see the U.S.S. Midway, visit some military museums and possibly go on an active naval ship.

“We are providing, just personally through ROTC, traveling funds there, providing gas for our cadets, we’re providing food for our cadets and we’re providing admission actually to go to the museums,” said Kristine Evangelista, cadet executive officer for the UA Army ROTC program. “What we’re lacking is lodging.”

Last year’s graduating class did not attend the staff ride because the program could not afford the trip. Evangelista said that the program typically fundraises to pay for its activities, but it is difficult to raise enough money for everything because they are a small group.

The senate moved to table the request until next week’s meeting in a 12-0-1 vote with College of Fine Arts Senator Jack Haskins abstaining.

Freshman Class Council requested $643.51 to support the cost of their upcoming Cubbie Dodgeball fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. $375.53 of that amount covers the cost of 29 t-shirts for FCC members to wear during the event, $202 covers the fee to use the SouthREC and $65.98 covers the cost of purchasing dodgeballs.

The senate elected to divide the request into two votes. It voted unanimously to provide $268 to pay for the recreation center fee and dodgeballs and moved to provide half the cost of the t-shirts at half the amount requested.

The senate approved $188 in funding to subsidize the shirts in a 9-2-1 vote. College of Social & Behavioral Sciences Senator Amy Gaudet and At-Large Senator Lady Dorothy Elli voted against the motion, and Eller College of Management Senator Ahana Singh abstained.

Finally, the Student Health Advocacy Committee requested $2,268.76 to fund its “Culture through Cuisine” food festival, including shirts, banners and arts & crafts. The purpose of the event is to give cultural organizations the space to share their food and culture with the university community.

Last year’s food festival was so successful that organizations ran out of food before the end of the first hour, according to Student Nutrition Coalition Co-Chair for SHAC Wesley Chiu.

“We had over 200 students come attend and around 600-800 portions of food, but that, unfortunately, was only enough to sustain the festival for around half an hour,” Chiu said.

Senate funding would help expand the event to provide more food so the festival can last longer. SHAC is also collaborating with Students for Sustainability to hold the food festival on the same night as SFS’s movie night to provide students with an engaging experience.

The senate moved to table the funding request until the next meeting.

The tentative date for SHAC’s Culture through Cuisine food festival is April 21. It will host 11 different cultural clubs and four dance groups.

The next ASUA senate meeting will be Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Pima room of the Student Union Memorial Center.

Follow Kristijan Barnjak on Twitter

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