ASUC Senate discusses Dignity Health contract, gender-neutral bathrooms

Emma Drake/Staff

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The ASUC Senate met Wednesday to discuss possibilities of revising a contract with Dignity Health and making the fourth-floor bathrooms in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union gender-neutral.

The meeting was ASUC Senator Pedro De Anda Plascencia’s first, as he was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting.

Many people arrived at the meeting for public comment on the UC system’s partnership with Catholic healthcare nonprofit Dignity Health and on a separate bill that would make the fourth-floor bathrooms of the student union gender-neutral.

During the generalized public comment period of the meeting, several speakers also commented on Monday’s ASUC University and External Affairs Committee meeting, emphasizing their disappointment with the committee after it heard a commentator’s genocidal threat to Palestinian students during the meeting.

Later in the meeting, more students wished to make additional public comment on Monday’s meeting after the original generalized public comment section ended. ASUC Executive Vice President Andy Theocharous said he could not accommodate these students because public comment on the consent calendar must be about items listed.

After a motion from Senator Romario, who does not use a last name, that suggested Theocharous be removed as chair of the meeting should he not accommodate the extra speakers, Theocharous moved to amend the agenda to allow additional public comment prior to comment on the consent calendar.

Many speakers, both Christian and LGBTQ, commented on services some Dignity Health hospitals will not provide, including contraceptives, abortions and gender-affirming care because of the Christian servicing guidelines of the corporation.

“I’m a lot of things, but I’m only any of these things because of a decision my parents made as teenagers 21 years ago not to abort me,” said campus junior and Christian student Nathan Fong at the meeting.

Aviel McDermott, a campus senior and president of Beyond the Binary, a student group for gender-nonconforming individuals, said they felt the issue at hand was not abortion.

“There’s a variety of healthcare they deny people based off of their religious beliefs,McDermott said at the meeting. “Denying someone a personal choice based on your religious faith is not religious freedom.”

The last public speaker was Romario, who spoke directly on the bill and to Senator Rebecca Soo, a representative for the Christian community on campus.

“(The bill) only calls for a contract that is inclusive of all individuals that it hopes to provide for,” Romario said. “Senator Soo, you do not represent all Christians; you don’t represent myself. I love you all, unless you don’t love me and my community.”

After public comment and the passing of the consent calendar, both the bill to revise the Dignity Health partnership contract and the bill advocating for gender-inclusive restrooms were passed. Soo was the only senator to vote against the Dignity Health bill, with Senator Milton Zerman abstaining from voting. Senators Nicole Anyanwu, Sylvia Targ and Shelby Weiss were not present at the meeting.

Sebastian Cahill is the lead student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.