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ASU student organizations denounce student activities bill in state legislature

ASASU and over a dozen student organizations passed a resolution against a state legislature bill that would change student activity fund allocations

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"ASASU, in alignment with this principle, retains the right to allocate funds in a manner that aligns with the best interests of our constituents."

Associated Students of ASU, including USG and GPSA, voted on a resolution to oppose the passage and implementation of an Arizona house bill that would fundamentally change how Arizona universities allocate student activity fees.

On Monday, Students for Justice in Palestine at ASU released a statement on Instagram that was cosigned by over a dozen student organizations, including Young Democratic Socialists of America, Model UN Team, TransFam, Zen Devils, Muslim Student Association, African Students Association, Mock Trial and others.

Over the last two weeks, USG passed ASASU Resolution 1 on all four Valley campuses to show their opposition to HB 2178.

Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, introduced the bill. If passed, the bill would allow state university students to choose which clubs receive money pro rata from the $35 student activity fee paid every semester by all enrolled university students. He said it would be optional for students to exercise this new power if the bill were to pass into law and it would allow students to have a say in which clubs receive money from that fee. 

As it stands now, ASASU and USG appropriate and allocate the $6.2 million that is collected from the student fees to "over 1000" student organizations, depending on each campus' USG bylaws. The bill only applies to university-sanctioned organizations and Kolodin said the bill is purposefully open-ended.

"HB2178 would significantly alter the functions of student governments as the redirection of student fees would not only profoundly impact the campuses of Arizona State University and cause similar consequences to Northern Arizona University, the University of Arizona," according to the ASASU resolution. "This, in turn, would result in the loss of programs and initiatives that are currently available to and organized by students attending a university within the State of Arizona."

Kolodin, who is Jewish, introduced the bill on the heels of on-campus protests involving SJP at ASU. 

"As an American, I recognize that those who call for the destruction of the Jewish people have an absolute First Amendment right to do so," Kolodin said during a Senate Education Committee meeting on Jan. 23.

"What they do not have a right to do, however, is to make other Jewish students, like I once was, fund the calls for the annihilation of their own people, their own families, their own children," Kolodin continued during the meeting, referencing the fact that students inadvertently fund various student organizations regardless of their approval of those organizations.

ASASU members, including USG executives, have since criticized the bill for viewpoint discrimination and said it could impact student organization diversity if the funding depends on individual student support.

READ MORE: Palestine advocacy groups denounce resolution in support of Israel at state capitol

"If funding becomes contingent on popular vote, you're neglecting smaller or niche organizations and students that play a crucial role in a diversity tapestry," said USG-WV Student Body President Alexis Blasko during a January town hall. "Along this line, the creation of a pro-rata share fund poses challenges, especially for smaller clubs. Larger organizations have a significant advantage in pulling funding for their clubs, leading to disparity."

During the same town hall, Blasko said ASASU currently operates "in a manner similar to the U.S. government," wherein USG levies a sort of "tax" through the student activity fee and then helps organizations "to support social programs and initiatives deemed beneficial to their interest."

"ASASU, in alignment with this principle, retains the right to allocate funds in a manner that aligns with the best interests of our constituents," according to the ASASU Resolution document.

The House version of the bill was transmitted to the Senate on Feb. 6, and it is scheduled for the Senate Education Committee this Wednesday, Feb. 14, where senators will deliberate a "conscience exemption" amendment

Edited by Walker Smith, Alysa Horton and Caera Learmonth.

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