The Undergraduate Student Government senate condemned university cuts to mental health services, and debated over legislation within the organization and the visa compliance fee for international students.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Eleanor JB Daugherty met with the USG senate to discuss the University of Connecticut budget for mental health services.
Earlier this month, USG passed legislation condemning cuts to the university's services for mental health.
Daugherty stressed her strong support of both this legislation and the mental health branch of UConn Health.
“There will be cuts, I don’t know what they will be… But this will be the branch that I will fight for…” Daugherty said. “There will be cuts, but it’s not going to be in mental health.”
Christine Savino, a representative for current Graduate Student Trustee Kevin Braghirol, presented Braghirol’s statement regarding the visa fee legislation passed last December.
Braghirol emphasized that this fee is essential to providing many of the support systems available to international students.
“(Without this fee) we would be unable to provide support services for students which are essential for their experience at the university, chief among them being their English competency,” Braghirol said.
In response to this, Senator Xingyi Chen presented a resolution calling for the creation of a student advising group that would work to review this fee with the Global Affairs office.
“There has been a lack of transparency on the behalf of university administration regarding the creation of the compliance fee as well as the intent and usage of the fee,” Chen’s resolution said.
Chen, an international student herself, argued that the voice of undergraduate students, and more specifically, undergraduate international students were ignored in the creation of this visa.
Chen said she felt that USG doesn’t have enough international student representation, which is why the fee was passed. She argued that the Graduate Student Senate, with a greater international student population, fought to have a chance for a fee waiver, so USG should have one as well.
However, USG President Irma Valverde stated that waiver was due to union action.
“The (graduate student) union negotiated to have the fee waiver, not GSS,” Valverde said.
This legislation was passed overwhelmingly, but did not include a fee waiver
Senator Nicholas Teeling then presented his legislation regarding an ad hoc committee created to review the governing documents of USG.
Teeling argued that the closed committee doesn’t offer all students the opportunity to have a hand in editing these documents.
“Anyone who holds the same passion for this should have a word in this,” Teeling said. “The current executive orders state that the public can comment but can have no true seat.”
Some senators argued that this public comment gives the student body a voice in the committee.
“Public comment and speaking rights aren't the same thing,” Senator Benjamin Murray said. “There is no harm in giving more people speaking rights.”
Some senators, including Senator Isabelle Fazzina, argued that President Valverde had given all senators ample time to submit applications to be on this committee and felt that arguing for this legislation at this point in time in the creation of the committee was futile.
These senators stated that the passing of this legislation would simply lead to the creation of two edited constitutions created by two separate committees, which would lead to more disagreements in the future.
Eventually, the legislation was passed 20-9.
This article was revised from its original version.
Molly Desrochers is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.