‘Helping those impacted communities’: ASUC COVID-19 Financial Relief Committee holds 1st meeting

Cheyenne Tex/Staff

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The ASUC COVID-19 Financial Relief Committee had its first meeting Saturday to discuss its members’ hopes for the committee, possible guidelines and the communities that need its help.

During the meeting, the committee elected ASUC Senator Romario, who does not use a last name, as the committee chair. He appointed campus freshman Aditya Varma as vice chair. Five senators, the chief legal officer, the chief financial officer, representatives from the Student Advocate’s Office and a student activist were present. Each member of the committee stated ways they would be able to help and why they wanted to be part of the committee.

“This particularly means a lot to me because I do have friends that are student-parents, I myself am an independent student and I also have folks that I know in the undocumented community,” Romario said at the meeting. “As chair, my biggest goal is helping those impacted communities and, of course, supporting the general student body as well.”

ASUC Chief Legal Officer Jedidiah Tsang said he first considered the idea that student governments could initiate relief efforts when he saw a resolution from Stanford University’s undergraduate student government that provided emergency relief, specifically for food and moving costs.

Joyce Huchin and Barbara de Alfaro, representatives for the Student Advocate’s Office, or SAO, discussed ways the SAO has been consolidating and managing funds and said they will share their experiences and pass on lessons they learned to the committee.

“Basically, what we’ve been noticing is we may actually experience a heightened increase in the amount of students who apply for that fund,” said ASUC Senator Nicole Anyanwu at the meeting. “How can we help certain communities like the undocumented community, the black community and a couple other communities that are suffering right now?”

The committee discussed what relevant bylaws it needs to consider when deciding where to allocate funds, as well as the possibility of making exceptions to and suspending bylaws. The members also discussed how they might start reaching out to Registered Student Organizations.

The committee also focused on ensuring it helps communities that are struggling right now, including undocumented students and student-parents. Student-parent advocate Sadia Khan noted the need to remember and support student-parents, both those in the University Village in Albany and those in separate living arrangements.

“I also just want to make sure we’re working with campus partners that are already doing the work, so we don’t have to force students to continue opening up about their situations, so we can try to keep track of who has already been served and who still needs service,” Khan said at the meeting. “I’m just here to share what I know and support in whatever way I can.”

Contact Mela Seyoum at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.