The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Monday condemning anti-Asian racism and calling on officials to support the Asian Pacific Islander Desi community.
Senators unanimously approved the Anti-Asian Racism Act, which calls on University President Thomas LeBlanc and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Paul Wahlbeck to retract their statements that avoided assigning a motive to the recent Atlanta shooting that killed six women of Asian descent. The resolution urges officials to condemn the shooting as a hate crime and fund an Asian American studies program and also encourages the SA finance committee to ramp up funding for Asian American student organizations.
SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U and the sponsor of the resolution, said the legislation should provide “systemic change to end the cycle of hate,” and Asian Pacific Islander Desi community members are “tired” of performative activism. He said the legislation outlines how the University can most effectively support the community, including increasing funding for Asian American programs.
“APID racism and hate is not new,” Young said. “It’s been going on for the past centuries, and it must end. We are here, we are not invisible and we are hurting, and it’s time for something to be done.”
The senate also tabled a bill that aims to clarify the SA’s financial bylaws and devote 1 percent of the SA’s general fund to initiatives benefiting students, like the CARES Fund and the Office of Advocacy and Support’s survivor’s fund. SA Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CPS-G and the sponsor of the bill, said the legislation serves as a “general cleanup” of the existing bylaws and streamlines financial definitions in the SA’s bylaws to help student organizations acquire money from the SA more easily.
“One of the things that I think we should do as an organization, just because I think it’s good ethics and morals, is contribute to funds that directly help students,” Falcigno said.
The bill was tabled until the senate’s next and final meeting later this month because not enough senators were present to pass the legislation by a two-thirds majority.
Senators also unanimously passed a resolution urging officials to support the University’s essential workers through the remainder of the pandemic by expanding pandemic leave from 80 to 180 hours. SA Sen. Sofia Packer, CCAS-U and the sponsor of the resolution, said officials have provided “inadequate” resources for essential workers, who are a “vital part” of the GW community.
The resolution also calls on administrators to freeze all layoffs and renew pandemic leave eligibility yearly until the end of the pandemic. Packer said the measures outlined in the resolution will be a “minimal step” to support essential workers at GW.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have seen how little GW seems to care for its workers,” Packer said. “Basic pandemic necessities like sufficient leave time, a layoff freeze and fair workers’ compensation are dreadfully inadequate for the prolonged time of crisis that we are currently experiencing.”
The senate also unanimously approved a bill, which SA President Brandon Hill introduced, to amend senate bylaws to no longer require students applying to be the chair of the Joint Elections Commission to gather a petition of support from students. Applicants have previously been required to gather 100 signatures before applying.
The senate also voted to provide more than $19,000 to the American Medical Physiology Club for the GW Health Summit, a semesterly event with workshops and guest speakers held by a coalition of 14 student organizations, to fund medical training supplies and pre-professional school materials.
Sophomore Victoria Barone – a member of GW’s chapter of Humanity First, a nonprofit promoting humanitarian relief in poor communities – said the funding will be used to provide educational materials to more than 2,000 interested students.
“I just want to emphasize that we will be using all the funds that you guys provide us for these supplies to help everybody,” Barone said. “It’s not just for undergraduate students. Also graduate students will be able to access these supplies.”
The SA also unanimously approved a $24,500 co-sponsorship request from the Philippine Cultural Society to fund their Asian Pacific Islander heritage celebration in May, which will host actress Arden Cho and author Ocean Vuong as keynote speakers.
Senators unanimously approved an $11,350 co-sponsorship request from the GW Urban Studies Initiative for an urban planning symposium from April 16 to 18. The symposium will feature 18 speakers and discussions on Indigenous planning, infectious diseases in cities and other urban planning initiatives.
The senate also confirmed Sophia Caione, a freshman and an aid for the student life committee, as vice president for student activities. Senators confirmed Zamin Raza, a first-year law student, as a member of the Student Court.
Lauren Sforza contributed reporting.