ASI formally denounces Azerbaijan, urges university solidarity with Armenian students

The ASI Board of Directors approved a resolution drafted by the Armenian Student Association calling for ASI to stand in solidarity with Armenian American members of the campus community and condemn the Azerbaijanian and Turkish governments’ actions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region during its Nov. 19 meeting.

In a unanimous 10-0 vote, the board approved the resolution along with amendments that updated its demands to reflect a cease-fire announced by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Nov. 10.

Most notably among the additions, the resolution calls on Cal Poly Pomona’s administration to release a statement in solidarity with Armenians in the region that promotes peace without “adhering to the terms of the Russia brokered ceasefire.”

Both ASI President Lucy Yu and ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh said that the next steps in advocating for the university to release a statement is mainly predicated on further discussions with administrators.

“We have a really good relationship with the administration this year and they really trust what we have to say and what direction we point them in,” said Yu.

As noted in the resolution, there is now precedent for California State University administrators to release statements addressing this conflict and in support of the Armenian people.

CSU Chancellor-select and Fresno State President Joseph Castro released an official statement of solidarity and support for the Armenian community on Oct. 5. San Jose State President Mary Papazian, herself Armenian American, penned an opinion piece on Oct. 27 arguing that Armenians in Artsakh require “advocacy to ensure that a new Armenian genocide, a century later, is averted.”

Also during the meeting, ASI BEAT Art Program Assistant Annikka Priya Rodriguez, a third-year aerospace engineering student, and Student Activities Assistant Rudy Varo, a third-year sociology student, presented the board with a proposal to design and construct a Peace Pole on campus.

Rodriguez and Varo presented their concept for a four to eight-sided Peace Pole where each side would display the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in a different language. The presenters invited input from board members on the project mainly focused on whether a maximum of eight languages would be sufficiently inclusive of the campus’ numerous cultures and nationalities.

ASI Art Program and BEAT representatives present the concept for the proposed on-campus Peace Pole, using Idaho State University’s 8-foot-tall monument as an example. (Courtesy of ASI)

Inter-Hall Council Senator-At-Large Prabhat Jammalamadaka began the conversation by recommending interchangeable sides for the monument which could rotate among different language options.

Greek Council Senator-At-Large Hillary Deleon suggested making each side of the pole a digital panel that would continuously display different languages.

Former ASI Officer of Diversity & Inclusion, Carla Castillo noted that the campus resides on the land of the native Tongva people and urged that organizers speak to the Native American Student Center for its input on representing that history in the monument.

Yu remarked during the meeting that in prior conversations with CPP President Soraya Coley, she “loved the idea overall,” and stressed to the ASI leaders that representation of the campus’ cultural makeup was important to her.

Singh added that Coley also suggested unveiling the pole at the Commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 rather than the proposed unveiling on Sept. 21, 2021, for International Day of Peace.

According to the presenters, the funds required from the project will be “in the thousands” and while the ASI Art Program has allocated $2,000 for the project, Rodriguez noted that that is likely just for the design and construction of the pole itself without consideration for the pole’s surroundings.

Jammalamadaka praised the idea of the project but wants students to provide input  prior to the board allocating funds, saying, “We are still in a COVID environment and a lot of students are already at that point in time where they do want some money back from the campus.”

In response, Rodriguez affirmed that a survey will gauge student opinion on the project and Singh suggested that rather than allocating money from ASI’s general fund, the pole could be financed from ASI’s New Programs and Augmentations Reserve.

According to ASI Treasurer Clayton Kusayanagi’s financial status report, the NP&A fund currently holds more than $2.6 million.

This meeting marked the first with newly-elected MultiCultural Council Senator-At-Large Tala Qasqas, who was elected to the position by the MCC after months of the position remaining vacant this semester. It was also the first meeting without a business senator, as Ravina Soma recently stepped down from the position.

While ASI has faced two post-appointment cabinet-level vacancies this term, this is the first vacancy of a voting board member since the start of the semester.

According to Yu, the Business Council already has multiple candidates interested in filling the vacancy and are planning to hold an intra-council election in the upcoming weeks.

The board of directors is next scheduled to meet on Dec. 1. The agenda, minutes and Zoom link for previous and upcoming board of directors’ meetings can be found here.

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