The ASUC Senate Inter-Semester Committee met Wednesday to discuss a COVID-19 relief fund resolution for students and the role of the chief grants and scholarships officer.
The relief plan would help students who are not eligible for the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, including undocumented and international students, according to Barbara de Alfaro, chief of staff for the ASUC Student Advocate’s Office.
“On my end, the financial constraint for students is really bad in terms of rent, textbooks,” said Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP, Nicole Anyanwu during the meeting. “We have students who are ready to financially withdraw without choice, because they have to.”
Vice chair of the ASUC COVID-19 Financial Relief Committee Aditya Varma added that while the funds benefit communities not represented in the CARES Act, the funding is neutral and available to any student in need.
The relief funds must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the 2019-20 ASUC Senate class, according to the Executive Vice President’s chief of staff Jedidiah Tsang. Senator Romario, who does not use a last name, was the primary sponsor of the relief fund motion and introduced the idea to make the motion urgent, allowing it to take effect before ratification.
“This should be considered urgent since we don’t know how long this crisis will go on,” Romario said during the meeting. “I would like students to not go hungry and not be houseless.”
Funding would be disbursed after the end of the fiscal year in early July, according to Tsang. He added that regardless of whether or not the motion is deemed urgent, the timeline will not change.
De Alfaro said deciding on this matter earlier and deeming it urgent will allow donation partners to know how much money they are able to give to programs such as the Basic Needs Center.
“(This would) help prioritize some students and student populations that maybe haven’t received as much support,” de Alfaro said during the meeting. “It’s important to support the students now while there is funding available.”
The motion to consider the matter urgent was unanimously approved.
Anyanwu also introduced the office-holding position of chief grants and scholarships officer, or CGO, for the ASUC during the meeting.
This officer’s focus on grants and scholarships would alleviate some of the duties of the AAVP and result in a more efficient granting and outreach process, according to the senate’s CGO resolution.
The CGO would develop partnerships and take in more money for students, according to Anyanwu. She added that the officer would help to streamline the processing of grants, including textbook scholarships, the multicultural grant and the commuter grant.
The ASUC Senate Inter-Semester Committee is set to meet again in June.