ASUC Senate discusses formation of COVID-19 financial relief committee

Lisi Ludwig/File

Related Posts

The ASUC Senate met Wednesday to discuss developments related to COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, regarding grading and campus housing, possible changes for the summer and fall semesters and the formation of a campus COVID-19 Financial Relief Select Committee.

After the senate discussed several agenda amendments, ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar began her presentation. Sarveshwar said at the meeting that students will not be charged late fees for UC rent payments, but that payments are not suspended for those staying in campus housing.

ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Aastha Jha added that students who choose to take classes for a grade this semester will have the grades counted toward their GPA but the default will be pass/no pass for undergraduates, noting that student letters to administration made an impact on the decision.

Jha also said administrators are looking into different models for conducting fall classes.

“They’re looking into some models like UCI, where international students, if they have a delay in the visa or something, they can take some of the introductory courses online,” Jha said at the meeting.

Additionally, the ​campus Financial Aid and Scholarships Office said it would take passes in place of letter grades, according to Jha. The campus is also working with athletes and students from the Disabled Students’ Program facing unit or GPA requirements.

Jha said although campus was in conversation about removing student fees for summer classes, she was unsure whether tuition cost would be lowered.

“I’m not sure (about) tuition itself, especially considering the financial hit the coronavirus has had on the entire university,” Jha said at the meeting, noting that some classes had been held entirely online during past summers.

Later, the senate discussed SR 19/20-061, a bill that would create a COVID-19 Financial Relief Select Committee. The committee would oversee the organization and distribution of a COVID-19 Financial Relief Fund. According to the bill, the establishment of such a committee would allow the ASUC to address the pandemic in a “sustainable” manner.

The committee would be temporary and dissolved following either the consideration of its final proposal or the end of 2020. The bill was primarily sponsored by ASUC Senator Romario, who does not use a last name.

“I think that, in the time we’re in, the work is important, Romario said at the meeting. “This work is going to be done regularly whether we form a committee or not, I just think a committee will improve the work already being done.”

Most of the discussion on the bill revolved around whether or not the committee members would receive a stipend for sitting on the committee.

Some senators felt that committee members should be compensated for their work, while others, such as ASUC Executive Vice President Andy Theocharous, felt that allowing a stipend for this committee meant other committee and commission members should receive stipends as well.

The bill was revised to remove mention of a stipend for members of the committee and was passed unanimously among the present senators. The attending senators also voted unanimously to pass SR 19/20-062, which established the COVID-19 Financial Relief Fund.

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