Tempe Undergraduate Student Government recognizes Armenian Genocide, paves way for gender-neutral facilities

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government voted to recognize and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and pave the way for more gender-neutral facilities on campus

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide during their Tuesday meeting by requiring every school calendar to mark its anniversary and inviting a guest speaker to commemorate the day.

Senate Bill 80, which was passed with a unanimous vote, allows Tempe USG to recognize the Armenian Genocide and commemorate its 100th anniversary.

The Armenian Genocide occurred during World War I, where as many as 1.5 million Armenian citizens were exterminated by the Ottoman government in present-day Turkey. The genocide, also called the Armenian Holocaust, is not as publicly known as the Holocaust involving Jewish citizens during World War II, though it affects many students on campus.

Finance student Tro Panosian, whose great-grandparents and grandparents survived the genocide, spoke during the meeting to address the human rights obligation this bill required. 

“This bill is fundamentally different from political bills," Panosian said. "It’s a resolution looking honestly at the past and honoring human rights for all victims of persecution on our campus. As an academic institution, we have a responsibility to uphold values of truth, justice and honesty and to view bills on a case-by-case basis rather than stereotyping for the sake of laziness or indifference.”

The genocide is currently not recognized by present-day Turkish government and should not be the same here at ASU, Panosian said. 

“Denying genocide or failing to recognize it is deplorable in the strongest sense,” Panosian said. “It is denigrating to student values and not what we stand for as students at Arizona State University as students of truth, justice and honesty.”

The bill, which also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide this year, would recognize the victims in an honorable way. 

“One hundred years ago, two-thirds of my people were erased from this Earth,” Panosian said. “We must honor them as students and humans of good conscience.”

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Senator Alex Arena said he has received nothing but support from ASU students in regards to this bill, even from non-Armenians. 

“It’s our job to represent the voices of ASU students,” Arena said. “There are no students who oppose the substance of this bill. Students have been proactive in bringing this issue to our attention and making their voices heard. We should honor what happened and bring it to light.”

USG also passed Senate Bill 81, which is a resolution advocating for gender-neutral bathrooms and housing facilities in ASU buildings. The amended bill was passed encouraging the University to establish one gender-neutral bathroom in each ASU public building and one gender-neutral floor in each residential community. 

Barrett, the Honors College Senator Daniel Martin, who introduced the bill, said he wanted to establish it to create a more welcoming environment for students and individuals who fall outside of the typical gender binary

“What we’re looking to do here is getting rid of the gender binary terms that are restricting people and understanding that there’s a larger continuum going on here,” Martin said. 

Tempe USG also voted not to fund the annual BB Run, previously known as the Undie Run. At the event, students have the option to strip down to their underwear and donate clothing to organizations like Goodwill before participating in a fun run.

The Undie Run has been one of the most notorious events to put ASU on the map as a party school, showcasing various students in scantily-clad clothing while dancing to music. 

Tempe USG President Cassidy Possehl spoke out about her opposition to the event several times during the meeting.

“Having this party paid for by the University and seeing those photos on the Internet cheapens the value of our degrees,” Possehl said. “We cannot continue to unethically represent students for community service benefit.”

Reach the reporter at Jlsuerth@asu.edu or follow @SuerthJessica on Twitter.

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