ASUC Senate discusses campus waste, space for QARC, bridges

Audrey McNamara/Senior Staff

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While it passed three resolutions at its weekly meeting Wednesday, the ASUC Senate spent most of the time in dialogue with members of the bridges Multicultural Resource Center and the Queer Alliance Resource Center, who packed the room in support of recent demands regarding their allocated club space on campus.

All senate resolutions up for vote were passed, including a resolution in support of UC Riverside’s student government and a resolution criticizing the campus’s progress toward the Zero Waste by 2020 Initiative.

Multiple QARC members gave speeches as a scheduled guest announcement, stressing the importance of having “visible and accessible” space, with some holding a banner that read “Fight 4 Queer & Trans Spaces.”

QARC and bridges protested Monday inside of the Student Store and on Sproul Plaza, advocating to have the Student Store’s space and the fifth floor of Eshleman as allocated space.

In response to a senator’s question at the meeting of what the groups plan to do if their demands are not met, QARC Board Director Jerry Javier replied, “The Student Store on Monday? That’ll happen again. And it’ll keep happening.”

Additionally, Javier suggested that the groups may protest future senate meetings.

“What will happen is you will come in on Wednesday for your senate meetings and you will not be able to hold the senate meeting,” Javier said.

According to Joe Wilson, chair of the Student Union Board of Directors, QARC and bridges agreed to take space in the basement in plans made for the building in 2011. Wilson added that the leadership of the groups has since changed.

“At the time, (the) groups wanted private space,” Wilson said. “There was a lot of violence and homophobic incidents happening on campus that caused students in (these) groups to not feel comfortable in an open space.”

CalSERVE Senator Benyamin Mohd Yusof had proposed a resolution supporting QARC and bridges’ demands at an earlier meeting and plans to split that resolution to create two new ones to meet the special needs of both organizations.

Two of the resolutions passed at the meeting included one in opposition of the campus’s lack of progress toward the Zero Waste Initiative and another — co-sponsored by nearly every ASUC senator — supporting the Associated Students of UC Riverside, or ASUCR, who have recently had their method for reporting to administrators changed.

The first resolution, SR 27, is in response to UC Berkeley ranking last out of all UCs in percentage of waste — including construction and demolition debris — diverted from landfills, according to the campus Residential Sustainability Program.

“Our budget crisis is an impediment,” CalSERVE Senator Rigel Robinson, the resolution’s sponsor, said in an email. “But when the university is content to waste money on fences…there is no excuse for the lack of attention and funding that our campus sustainability unit is receiving.”

The second, SR 28, responds to the UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox’s issuance of a change to the reporting structure of the ASUCR staff. ASUCR President Shafi Karim said in a letter to Wilcox that the new change — which requires the ASUCR executive director to report to the vice chancellor of student affairs more directly than to the ASUCR President — undermined student supervision and threatened the autonomy of the ASUCR.

“What happens at one campus, sets a precedent for other campuses,” said ASUC Chief Legal Officer Alek Klimek, the resolution’s sponsor, in an email.

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.