The Undergraduate Student Government Tempe passed legislation dealing with funds to reduce students educational expenses and seat allocation on Tuesday night.
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Senator Nathaniel Anbar, a third-year student majoring in chemical engineering, introduced Senate Bill 25, which is an act to reduce student expenses due to COVID-19.
The bill will take $50,000 leftover from the Appropriations General Fund. This will help students with education expenses such as textbooks and other materials, and will be specifically aimed at students needing the money for their session B classes.
"What we are trying to do is give back some of the student fee dollars to the students directly," Anbar said. "For a lot of students, there's always issues with overpriced textbooks and professors adding in class supplies that you didn't expect."
This bill hopes to help students in financially vulnerable situations.
"Obviously, the first and foremost priority of this bill is to help students get out of difficult times," Anbar said. "That's really why we're doing (and) why we think this money needs to go back to the students."
College of Health Solutions Senator Bhavani Subbaraman, a junior studying biomedical informatics, spoke on the large impact that the cost of textbooks can have on an individual. According to ASU, textbooks can cost a student up to $1,000 a year.
"That can place a significant financial burden on students and create a significant barrier and access to education," Subbaraman said. "This should supplement those individuals who have found themselves afflicted by some of these repercussions surrounding COVID-19."
Due to COVID-19, much of the money geared toward clubs and student events were not used, leading the appropriations committee to have to find new uses for the funds, said School of Sustainability Senator Kylie Vacala, a senior studying sustainability.
"Everybody was in the loop," Anbar said. "Spending money to help students with books and supply costs was one of the ideas that got raised and ultimately was the one we decided to go with."
Just like the Student Crisis Fund offered by the ASU Foundation, the textbook fund will be an online application form that students need to fill out, which USGT will promote to students on social media and through other means.
"(Students) will always, or almost always, be accepted," Anbar said.
This bill, which is a pilot program, will likely not be the last of similar programs that USGT will put together, as the appropriations committee plans.
"We're going to be constantly evaluating throughout the semester other ways that we can put large amounts of money from the appropriations fund that aren't being used into programs that help students," Anbar said.
SB 26 also passed on Tuesday night. The bill proposed bylaw changes regarding which colleges can have a seat in the Senate.
The wording in the article that defines the voting membership of the Senate was changed from "housed primarily at the Tempe Campus" to "in which majors for that Degree-awarding college are offered at the ASU Tempe Campus."
In addition to these changes, Joshua Valenzuela, the assistant elections commissioner and a sophomore studying politics and the economy, spoke at the Senate meeting about the upcoming 2021 ASASU elections.
The application to run for USG office is already open, with applications being due Feb. 22. Candidates will be announced March 1 and voting will be open March 30 and 31 through Sun Devil Sync and in person.
The next USGT Senate meeting is on Feb. 16.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Anbar’s year in school. The story was updated Feb. 5, 2021, at 9:47 a.m. to reflect the change.
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Morgan Fischer is the politics editor, she works with her desk to cover topics related to politics in the ASU community. She has previously worked as an intern for RightThisMinute.