Senate to discuss potential referendum items Wednesday

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The ASUC Senate will vote Wednesday on whether or not to allow five items to be placed on this year’s ballot.

If these bills pass, they will become official referendums — requiring a majority approval by the student body — that could result in the installation of solar panels on campus, expansion of health services, further funding of the ASUC and other campus groups, modification of the ASUC’s governing document and expansion of services for underserved students.

Under the Solar Energy Reinvestment Referendum, the campus and ASUC would each fund the installation of solar panels on campus buildings and “student-used buildings” — such as the student union and co-ops — respectively. The referendum calls specifically on the campus and ASUC to share the financial burden without affecting student fees.

Calling the ASUC’s work in installing three solar panels back in 2003 a “symbolic gesture,” Ryan Lynch, co-director of the ASUC sustainability team, said in an email that the campus must “respond with resiliency and urgency.”

The Wellness Referendum fee renews the already existing fees for the Recreational Sports Facility, or RSF, and intramural sports and then adds another fee of $62.50 per semester to help expand campus health services. Included in the latter fee is a new mandatory $8.50 RSF membership cost, which will replace the RSF’s semesterly registration fee.

The increase in wellness programs would expand working hours of the Tang Center and create stress management spaces, among other developments. One-third of this revenue would be returned to financial aid to help offset the costs for low-income students.

According to the bill’s primary sponsor and SQUELCH! Senator Madison Gordon, part of the problem with the current system lies in the fact that the campus’s mental health infrastructure was put into place in the 1990s and is now outdated.

Next, the Increase in Student Activity Fee Referendum, which intends “to enhance the breadth of student life and culture,” calls for an increase in the ASUC student activity fee from $20 per semester to $47.50 per semester to help fund the Bridges Multicultural Resource Center, SUPERB, Public Service Center, ASUC general fund and Graduate Assembly, among other graduate and undergraduate student organizations.

“The ASUC hasn’t increased since 2001, and we’re working with an outdated financial model,” said the bill’s primary sponsor and executive vice president, Justin Kong, who compared similar fees at other campuses and said they were much higher.

The Constitutional Clarity and Consistency Amendment streamlines the ASUC’s governing documents by removing ambiguous wording and discrepancies and adding an article to cement the ASUC’s autonomy from the campus, although the ASUC has been an independent nonprofit since 1977.

“Constitutional crises are a recurring problem, historically,” said senate vice chair Alek Klimek, who drafted the bill, in an email. “Every such loophole presents a liability.”

The Educational Opportunity and Equity Fee Referendum proposes a $19 fee per semester that would expand student services for more than 13,000 nontraditional or underrepresented students — such as first-generation, low-income or transfer students — to ease their transition into the college environment.

The 2015-16 ASUC general elections will take place April 7, 8 and 9.

Contact Ivana Saric at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ivanas26.