The first Student Union Assembly (SUA) meeting of the academic year, held on Oct. 15, served as an introduction to the six new SUA officers. SUA Chair Shaz Umer served as internal vice chair last year but the remaining five are first time officers who join the new SUA adviser Alma Sifuentes.
The SUA is UC Santa Cruz’s student government, which advocates for UCSC students’ needs on the campus, state and national levels. The SUA is entirely student-run and is funded by student fees.
Commissioner of Academic Affairs Vanessa Morales spoke about her ongoing conversation with a university library intern.
“I’ve been working with the administration from the library most of the summer to do a three year trial campaign to have a library space open [24 hours, five days a week],” Morales said.
External Vice Chair Tony Milgram told the group about his collaboration with Santa Cruz Metro, which led to the decision to run the 20 route two hours later, until 10:20 p.m. The change will take effect starting winter quarter.
Concerned with student outreach, Internal Vice Chair Max Hufft decreased his monthly salary by $300 in order to create three new student outreach positions in addition to the current three. Commissioner of Diversity Charlsie Chang also lowered her monthly salary by $300 in order to provide funds to the Students of Color Conference, which “provides a safe space for students of color and their allies to strategize around statewide and campus-based actions,” according to the UCSA website.
SUA Chair Shaz Umer expressed a goal to strengthen ties with the University of California Students Association (UCSA) and the United States Student Association (USSA), two groups focused on representing students and their interests.
In addition to strengthening ties to UCSA and USSA, Organizing Director Ivan Medina expressed interest in creating stronger bonds between the SUA and the six ethnic and identity organizations on campus. These organizations each have one representative, meaning they can vote during meetings, but Queer Student Union (QSU) was the only organization in attendance at this meeting.
“Historically there has been a discrepancy between ethnic and identity organizations and SUA,” Medina said. “I have been very vocal about reaching out to these organizations.”
The second half of the meeting was largely dedicated to UC president Janet Napolitano’s visit to the campus. Since only a select group of SUA members and undocumented students were going to interact with Napolitano, the officers opened the discussion to everyone, asking if there were any questions people wanted to ask her.
Some of the questions proposed by representatives and visiting students centered around her involvement with UCSA, the possibility of speaking to a larger number of UCSC students, protection for undocumented students and funding cuts for teaching assistants.
The agenda allotted 25 minutes for the discussion on Napolitano, but SUA Chair Shaz Umer had to add more time twice to meet concerned students’ and representatives’ inquiries.
Despite a strict agenda for the meeting, the SUA took time to prioritize the concerns of the attendees, a priority which extends far beyond their weekly meetings.
“The SUA is always working to improve the relationship between the students and the college representatives and officers,” said Chief of Staff to the Chair Kelly Herron. “All SUA meetings are open for any student to attend and we welcome all opinions in this space.”