SA Senate allocates $12,000 to emergency student assistance fund

Media Credit: Krishna Rajpara | Assistant Photo Editor

The $12,000 will provide financial assistance to students especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, covering emergency medical bills, temporary housing and academic expenses.

The Student Association Senate unanimously passed a bill moving $12,000 to an emergency student assistance fund and approved funding for student organizations for fiscal year 2023 during a meeting Monday.

The SA CARES Act transfers $12,000 – roughly $11,600 of which was reserved in the SA’s General Fund for a program that “directly helps students” – to the CARES Fund, which provides financial assistance to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and costs like medical bills, temporary housing and academic expenses. Senators also unanimously passed the FY23 General Allocation Part I Act and the Invest in the Future Act, which approved the finance committee’s general student request allocations for the fall semester and cleared more than $100,000 for student organizations to use on “capital assets,” respectively.

SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U, who sponsored all three bills, said the funds for the CARES Act were “set aside” at the beginning of the fiscal year with the plan to allocate donations at the end of the year.

“This is a fund we set aside at the beginning of this fiscal year,” Xu said at the meeting. “We are required to designate and appropriate this fund to fund a program or initiative as directly help students.”

The SA finance committee allocated roughly $1 million in response to requests that totaled about $5 million from nearly 269 student organizations, who on average received about 30 percent of their requested funding.

Xu said the Invest in the Future Act was a “continuation” of the Year-End Capital Investment Act, which reallocates leftover SA funds to student organizations for “durable goods” like sports equipment that will last a year or more. The Invest in the Future Act disburses more than $108,000 to student organizations as outlined in the Year-End Capital Investment Act.

Senators also unanimously passed the Student Association Finance Act, which amends the SA bylaws to include the SA Fee rate, establishes the University-Wide Program Fund, which funds large-scale events, and establishes a Legislative Budget Office. Xu, who sponsored the bill, said the new Legislative Budget Office will put together reports and conduct research to “assist” the finance committee and the legislative branch so legislators “can focus on their policy.”

“This will formalize and codify the internal finances for this year’s association to promote accountability and transparency,” he said.

Senators failed to pass the Development and Alumni Relations Amendment Act by a vote of 25-3-3, which would have created an executive secretary of development and alumni relations. SA Sen. Derek Lo, CCAS-U, who voted against the bill, said the legislation should be saved for next year’s senate so this year’s outgoing senators do not unduly affect next year’s senate operations.

“I think it’s important to understand what role we have as the outgoing senate in terms of what happens in one of the future senates,” he said.

Senators unanimously passed the No Place for Hate Act after students demonstrated during their meeting and provided more than a dozen public comments condemning GW Young America’s Foundation for the organizations’ recent transphobic tweets. The act requests the University investigate the organization for a potential code of conduct violation and calls for the temporary suspension of GW YAF.

Senators unanimously voted to appoint David Lee, the current senate deputy chief of staff, and Isabella Nieminen, the secretary of campus services in the executive cabinet, as Student Court justices.

Lee said his background as senate parliamentarian and as deputy chief of staff make him qualified for the spot because these positions gave him an understanding of the SA’s governing documents.

“This understanding of the power of the voting executive and legislative branch will allow me to make rulings that are legal but do not deliberately hurt the mission of the Student Association,” he said.

Senators also unanimously passed resolutions of appreciation for executive senior members like Brandon Hill and his chiefs of staff, senate staff, Deputy Chief of Staff David Lee, Chief of Staff Chris Johnson, and Executive Vice President Kate Carpenter. The AppreciKate Carpenter Resolution thanks Carpenter for “zealously representing” the student body.

“She deserves this 100 percent,” Johnson said.

The next senate meeting will be held May 2 at 8:30 p.m. over Zoom.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.