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USGT gives $30,000 to TedxASU event, passes resolution supporting free speech

USGT passed a resolution in support of President Michael Crow's statement endorsing free speech

20200218 Undergraduate Student Government Tempe 0005

Undergraduate Student Government Tempe senators listen to a speaker during a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, at the Memorial Union Stage on the Tempe campus.

Undergraduate Student Government Tempe voted in favor of a resolution in support of President Michael Crow’s statement supporting free speech on campus during its senate session Tuesday.

The resolution references a letter that Crow wrote last November following a campus protest.

In his letter, Crow wrote that "ASU is committed to free, robust and uninhibited sharing of ideas among all members of the university community and we strive to provide an environment that fosters the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression."

While ASU is supportive of free speech, "ASU condemns behaviors and actions that threaten or intimidate any individual or group of individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, veteran status, or any other particular status," Crow wrote. 

While all USGT senators seemed interested in supporting free speech, some were concerned with the timing and perception of the resolution.

Barrett, The Honors College Senator Diane Solorio, a sophomore studying political science and public policy, expressed some of these concerns.

"I am all for free speech, and I think this resolution is very positive, but with that being said I've heard a lot of students are frustrated about the use of free speech," Solorio said. 

Solorio brought up a previously approved resolution that notifies students when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is on campus as a reason that she is wary of the timing of the resolution.

"Right now, I would not feel comfortable supporting it given that we just passed the resolution on ICE," Solorio said.

READ MORE: USGT calls for ICE/CBP notification committee, stands with Asian students amid xenophobia

College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Senator Sebastian Patron-Soto, the author of the resolution, clarified, "this resolution does not mean you can say whatever you want." 

"If you're saying something that's illegal or meant to hurt other people and endanger their lives," that is not supported by the University, Patron-Soto, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, said.  

One of the senators who authorized the resolution was W. P. Carey School of Business Senator Derek Baranski, a junior studying business law, 

"This isn't really a partisan issue, it's not (USGT) picking a side, it's just ensuring that an open dialogue exists on our campus," Baranski said. 

The Senate voted to approve the resolution with 15 votes in favor and three abstentions. 

During the open forum session of the meeting, USGT discussed the possibility of increasing the Student Activity Fee an additional $5. 

The senators discussed the possible student backlash for the fee increase, and they will continue to discuss benefits in future sessions. No formal legislation has been introduced on the matter.

The largest funding proposal for a student organization during the meeting was for the TEDxASU, which was specifically to fund the organization's NextGen event at the Gammage Auditorium on March 25. The funding proposal was approved, with $30,000 coming from USGT appropriations.

USGT also voted to confirm the seats of three new senators: Kyle Polen from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Clay Robinson from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Izaac Mansfield from the School for the Future of Innovation and Society. 

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