ASI unanimously approves recommended basic needs allocation

Following last meeting’s recommendation from the ASI secretary of basic needs, the ASI Board of Directors unanimously approved the recommended allocation plan for distributing about $2.2 million to university and ASI basic needs programs during its Nov. 5 meeting.

With an 11-0 vote, the board funneled 72% of the funds or $1.58 million to the university’s Emergency Grant program, 14% or $308,000 to the newly reopened Poly Pantry, 5% or $110,000 for the laptop and hotpot request program, 4% or $88,000 to the ASI Basic Needs Scholarship, 3% or $66,000 to DACA support fees, 1% or $22,000 to the Clothes Closet, and 0.5% or $11,000 each to a menstrual product pilot program and CalFresh Outreach.

Following the board’s approval of this allocation plan, internal ASI departments will now begin a mid-year budget process for the first time in the auxiliary organization’s history, in which they will be tasked with reporting the areas previously identified for savings to the ASI administration. From there, a revised budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year will be presented to the board for a final vote with these designations for the $2.2 million officially in place.

According to ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh, the soonest a revised budget could be presented to the board is during its next meeting scheduled for Nov. 20.

In addition to this approved allocation structure, the board of directors also expedited the approval of Aliza Ortega, a first-year communication transfer student, as ASI’s elections chair.

Ortega, who was not present at the meeting, was recommended by ASI President Lucy Yu who commended Ortega for her experience in high school student government and as a youth leader for her church. Suspending the usual procedure of waiting until the next board meeting to vote on this recommendation, the board approved Yu’s recommendation with another unanimous 11-0 vote.
Yu discussed the qualities her and Singh were seeking for the position.

“Elections chair is really important to us because of the virtual environment we’re in,” said Yu. “So, we really wanted somebody creative, we really wanted somebody strategic that could handle being online and still have the drive to get as many students out to vote as possible, we really wanted somebody that could truly kind of revamp the entire elections process.”

Part of the revamping that Yu wished to see was an increase in student voter turnout for ASI elections, noting that last semester’s turnout was 2% of the student body.

Ortega later said that she believed this could be achieved by marketing the elections to a
student body that in the past has often been unaware or disinterested in student government
and allowing for an extended time period for students to vote. Ortega also noted that ASI
elections are already held online, meaning next semester’s ASI elections may boast higher
turnout in a virtual semester.

Still, with one top ASI leader position appointed, another is now vacant as Yu announced during
the meeting that Adrian Tenney, who had been appointed in July as the ASI officer of
sustainability, stepped down from the position.

“We’re upset every time that a team member wants to step down or has to step down,” said
Yu. “Adrian just wanted to focus a little bit more on their own life, they’re a master’s student,
so there’s just a lot of studying and homework and things going on so they just wanted to take
a step back.”

Singh added that the two leaders will miss Tenney’s “expertise” as they brought “a lot of good
information to the table.”

This is the second post-appointment cabinet-level vacancy following Jayla Littlejohn stepping
down as secretary of basic needs in August. However, unlike Littlejohn’s vacancy that led to the
subsequent appointment of Rosalia Armas in September to fill the basic needs position, Yu and
Singh currently have no plans to seek another student to replace Tenney as officer of
sustainability.

Yu attributed how late they are in the semester to this decision, saying that by the time the two
leaders market the position, conduct interviews, verify a potential candidate’s eligibility, and
successfully reach board approval, “we’re going to be well into spring semester and we just
don’t have the time to do that right now.”

She added that the work that Tenney has already done in the position will continue to be
carried out, most likely by Yu and Singh.

Also during the meeting, Engineering Sen. Araz Madenlian presented a resolution authored by
the Cal Poly Pomona Armenian Student Association that calls on both ASI and the university to
formally condemn Azerbaijan and recognize the Republic of Artsakh amid conflict in the
Nagorno-Karabakh region over the past months.

According to Singh, ASI leaders have discussed this issue with university administrators privately
and have so far been unsuccessful in persuading the university to make any kind of official
statement on the matter.

The board of directors is scheduled to vote on this resolution during their next meeting on Nov.
19. The agenda, minutes and Zoom link for previous and upcoming board of directors’ meetings
can be found here.

(Graphic: Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post) 

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