Undergraduate Student Government Tempe Senate passed a resolution Tuesday that would show ASU students' support for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Supporters of SR-03 hope it would encourage conversations about policies to increase gender equity on campus by improving resources. Sixteen senators voted yes, none voted no and one abstained.
The Equal Rights Amendment, if ratified, would be added to the U.S. Constitution to ensure equal rights "under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
The resolution aligns with the USG Constitution’s non-discrimination clause and ASU's Title IX Statement to "not discriminate on the basis of sex." It also addresses gender-based discrimination on campus, including menstrual equity, sexual violence and gender-based harassment.
After the passage of the resolution, USGT plans to schedule meetings with University bodies, such as the Dean of Students Office and Provosts, to discuss initiatives to promote the amendment's ideals at ASU. It is also sending the resolution to the government bodies at the three other ASU campuses and the Graduate and Professional Student Association, to encourage them to pass a similar resolution.
Arizona is one of the 12 states that has not ratified this amendment since its introduction in 1923. House Concurrent Resolution 2012, a house resolution that supported the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, was tabled during the Arizona State Legislature’s 2017 session.
Jasmine Perez, a senator for The College and a sophomore studying philosophy, said she hopes the resolution will start a conversation to address gender-based discrimination on campus.
“Once it's being advised that these are the problems on campus, then we can start coordinating initiatives and actions to collaborate with other organizations on campus,” Perez said.
In the process of drafting the resolution, several women's advocacy groups were contacted, and the Women's Coalition and Planned Parenthood Generation Action have shown support for the resolution.
Aparna Bezawada, the treasurer for the Women’s Coalition and senior studying finance, said she hopes the resolution would encourage the ASU administration to support projects the coalition is working on to “create a true sense of gender equity amongst the student body.”
However, Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, the organization that proposed the establishment of a rape crisis center on campus, said the resolution does not do enough to target gender-based discrimination.
“A statement in support of the Equal Rights Amendment does little, if anything, to improve conditions on campus for women and gender minorities,” SDASA stated in an email. “Hiring additional sexual violence prevention staff and victim advocates, as demanded in our Campus Assault Advocacy, Resources & Education proposal endorsed by more than 50 student organizations, would make ASU safer and more supportive of women and gender minorities.”
When the resolution was first introduced at a USGT Senate meeting on Jan. 18, some senators were concerned the resolution took too much of a political stance, as it is mandated in the USGT bylaws partisan political initiatives are outside of USGT jurisdiction.
Controversy about the USGT’s jurisdiction to support the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment led to the Senate tabling the resolution during that meeting. The resolution initially asked for President Michael Crow, the Provost, Vice Provost and Arizona Board of Regents to write a statement in support of the amendment. The resolution no longer includes this clause.
Aaron Goldschmidt, a senator for the W.P. Carey School of Business and junior studying supply chain management and business, encouraged the Senate to table the bill during the previous meeting.
“It seems like it’s a political stance and asking President Crow to make a political stance,” Goldschmidt said during the meeting on Jan. 18. “I’m not sure if that’s within our purview.”
Jordyn Hitzeman, a freshman studying economics and computational mathematical sciences who spearheaded the resolution, said she was confused by this concern because USGT resolutions have taken political stances in the past. In 2020, a resolution was passed that proposed ASU defund its police department in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, Hitzeman said.
Izaac Mansfield, a senator for the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and a junior studying innovation in society and computer information systems, said conflict about the partisanship of USG resolutions has varied depending on the attitudes of people in the Senate.
“(The last legislature) seemed like they were a lot more interested in pushing the boundaries of what USG is capable of,” said Mansfield, the USGT government operations chair. “This legislature seems to really appreciate the bylaws, appreciate the guidance that they give, and would rather not toe that line.”
Mansfield said student advocacy, whether through the coalitions or other student-led organizations, can create change in manners other than through USG policy. He encouraged students to reach out to ASU administration.
“We want to encourage all students to use their voice,” Mansfield said. “If they want something done, they don't just have to go through us.”
Alexis Waiss is a reporter for the politics desk. She joined the State Press in Fall 2021 and has covered state legislature, Arizona politicians, university policy, student government, the city of Tempe and stories highlighting social justice.