On April 19th, 2017 the Associated Students of University of California, Merced (ASUCM) conducted their weekly senate meeting to discuss topics that might be relevant to improving student life on campus. However, with the increasing amount of complaints regarding the insuring practices of UCSHIP, there was a slight aura of controversy in the air as most of the people who attended happened to be students who had dealt with the program. Most who had come to the meeting did so to discuss their dissatisfaction with how UCSHIP handled their insurance plans, making it the most discussed topic of the night. In addition to this, the night seemed to be basically routine, with updates and progress along the way.
As always, the meeting started off with the usual approval of the minutes and agenda for the night, then segwaying into the guest speaker of the night, Dr. Jill Robbins, the Dean of SSHA. She mentioned that she had concerns about the staff as the university increases in size. It was claimed that more students are moving toward the humanities when they drop out of engineering, increasing demand for more staff members in the department. She is prospectively looking to expand staff by forty members.
The External Office spoke next about their recent trip to the Capitol and discussed the recent bills being considered in California. Among these were the CAValues act and the College Student Hunger act, the latter being an important issue for Merced students since the city is considered to have a “food drought.” Additionally, they talked about the helping students who are working on campus to have a $15 minimum wage. This would help undergraduates feel more financially stable while attending college and have a higher standard of living.
Of course, the recent controversy with UCSHIP was the most discussed issue of the night. As soon as the issue was brought up, virtually every student who were guests at the meeting stood up to explain how they were affected by the practices of the office. One student remarked that he was being forced to pay for insurance even though he already had some. This issue was echoed by another and added that they wanted their money back. One particular student spoke of an incident that involved the student only eating ritz crackers and jello one day in order to save money to keep going to school. All was considered and the senate took it upon themselves to vote for a new bill that would make the office run more efficiently for the students. After grammatical revisions and further deliberation, the bill 48 was passed unanimously.
Another proposal was made to expand study spaces for students in the library by replacing some of the administrative offices occupying the space. The words used were to “reclaim” the area for students again. Additionally, it was announced that there will be study spaces in conference rooms for the finals studying.
Photo Credit: Marcus Fox