USG Tempe Senate ends semester with heated debate

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Senate Bill 44 failed following intense debate. The bill passed, and the story has been updated to correct that information.

The Tempe Undergraduate Student Government Senate wrapped up its last meeting of the semester by debating four remaining unresolved Senate bills.

Senate Bill 44, which proposed to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People Day on campus, passed after intense debate.

Sen. Aman Aberra of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering authored the bill after a group of students collected 400 signatures supporting this change.

Aberra said celebrating Columbus Day is an insult to the indigenous people of the Americas because it represents the displacement and destruction of indigenous culture after Europeans arrived in America.

Sen. Alex Flamini of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and several other senators voiced their support of the bill.

“(The bill) recognizes a group of individuals that, in the past, we have put down,” Flamini said.

Senators who argued against the bill said Columbus Day is a part of American culture and history, representing the beginning of a new movement and society rather than supporting the decimation of indigenous cultures.

Other senators said they did not want to go against how the national government recognizes the day.

Some senators said they would consider supporting a bill that eliminated recognition of the day altogether on the Tempe campus.

Senate Bill 40, which would place guidelines around what kind of bills senators are allowed to propose, was killed in the Government Operations Committee.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Sen. Benjamin Sanchez, the committee’s chair, said the bill had no purpose.

“There’s no need to limit the senators’ ability to propose legislation,” he said.

The bill arose after some senators expressed frustration because they believed the USG Senate spends too much time debating bills not directly relevant to students.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 42, the winter cycle budget, and Senate Bill 43, which appointed a new government affairs director.

Two senators resigned from their positions because they would no longer be able to serve on the Senate next semester due to conflicting opportunities.

At the end of the meeting, several senators expressed frustration about how senators conducted themselves during the meeting, citing bickering and debates focusing on personal opinion instead of the voice of the students the Senate represents.


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