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ASUA aims for transparency, increased student engagement

Ryan+Revock%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AAssociated+Students+of+the+University+of+Arizona+President+Morgan+Abraham+talks+about+whats+in+store+for+student+government+this+academic+school+year.
Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Morgan Abraham talks about what’s in store for student government this academic school year.

Each year the Associated Students of the University of Arizona serves as the centralized student voice for approximately 30,000 students at the UA.

The group helps fund and support organizations such as ZonaZoo, Safe Ride, and Spring Fling. ASUA President Morgan Abraham said he is working to increase student engagement to help better advocate on behalf of the student body.

Issues to look out for

A debate regarding the UA’s status as a tobacco-free campus is scheduled for this year.

“I’m trying to reach out to students — kind of see what they feel,” Abraham said. “It’s a very black and white issue for students, so we are trying to talk to as many students as possible to get to the bottom of it.”

Students should also keep an eye on a possible reduction in tuition for DREAMers. DREAMers are currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Initiative, a temporary program that allows them to stay and work or attend school in the United States.

Morgan said he is seeking student input regarding the construction of new buildings for the UA so ASUA can represent the students at Arizona Board of Regents meetings.

New and Noteworthy

The ASUA Appropriations Board has a larger budget this year,
according to Issac Ortega, ASUA treasurer. The budget is a little more than $200,000, which will fund trips, T-shirts or conferences.

“This is the most [money] we have ever had,” Ortega said. “Hopefully, they are changing the bylaws so we can get clubs more T-shirts or plane tickets.”

Danielle Novelly, ASUA executive vice president, said she wants to make sure ASUA allocates all of the money.

“I think the clubs are doing great things, and we were able to see a lot of great things happen through the clubs for our university in this past year,” Novelly said. “This will just be able to keep that going.”

ASUA has hired a staff who will focus specifically on reaching out
to students and getting their individual opinions, Abraham said. ASUA plans to conduct student surveys and polls, he added.

“We all have our own opinions, and I think, in the past, ASUA has relied on the people within ASUA to formulate the opinions,” Abraham said. “I didn’t get elected because of my opinions or my political affiliations. I got elected to represent students.”

What students should know

Although the budget for ASUA is $1.7 million, ASUA only gets to allocate about $600,000 of that money, Abraham explained. The Student Service Fee Advisory Board allocates money to specific programs, such as Safe Ride, Abraham added.

The executive team looks at budgets from the past five years to
determine how much certain services and programs are given. The executive team consists of Abraham, Novelly, Ortega and Administrative Vice President Amanda Lester.

“It’s kind of scary at first because, you know, I’ve never handled that much money before,” Ortega said. “It’s pretty straightforward [allocating the money]. There’s a lot of past precedent that’s set.”

At the end of every year, directors fill out a survey regarding the budget and monetary funding, and the executive team takes this into account, along with student feedback, to try to accommodate everyone in the office, Abraham explained.

“We want to make sure that everyone knows exactly where the money is going,” Abraham said, “And if anyone has a problem with it, [they can] come find me. We don’t want to be doing anything behind closed doors.”

Follow her at Twitter.com/rmcclusk6

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