Rendering of the the proposed new student union.

ASI approves New USU for ballot, senator calls it ‘harassment’

The Associated Students Inc. senate voted on Wednesday to allow the New USU referendum on the voting ballot in the spring semester. At least one senator voiced his concerns on the latest vote by the student government.

The vote had been scheduled for action at the Nov. 1 meeting, but after language revision was requested, the senate sent the ballot to the Campus Fee Advisory Committee to draft the new language. It was later sent back to ASI for further review.

With revised ballot language in hand, a majority of senators voted to allow the new University Student Union issue to appear on the ballot. One objection was made by Travis Childress, Senator of Greek Affairs, who initially motioned to move the action item until the next senate meeting.

Childress said that voting to allow the New USU’s referendum to appear on the ballot would be remiss because it was the first time the senators had seen the updated language. He was concerned senators would be unable to speak to their constituents prior to the vote. But without support, Childress’s motion failed.

Primavera Martinez, Senator of Undergraduate and Graduate Affairs, said that even if Fresno State students do not have time to speak with their representatives on the issue, they still have the power to vote against the New USU in the spring.

Still, Childress expressed his concern on allowing the referendum to reappear on the ballot at all after last year’s Bold New U campaign failed, saying that placing such a measure on the ballot for students to vote on again “would be akin to harassment.”

As senate support for placing the New USU referendum on the ballot appeared to be locked in, Martinez said supporting such a project and supporting its appearance in the ballot were different actions. She also said the senate should focus on things that are “more worthwhile.”

“Obviously, students want to use their voice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and we should grant them that,” she said.

The USU board of directors hosted a support rally on Nov. 13 for the New USU. Student leaders who are leading the campaign had a chance to share why they believe Fresno State needs the New USU.

The campaign is student-led and student-funded, according to Lauryn Flores, a member of the USU board and a sophomore communications and agricultural business major.

“You really see the voice of the students in the project and every event that we do,” Flores said.

The board members had been working for the last few months to put the event together. Students who walked by the USU stopped by the event, where they were provided with free pizza and had the opportunity to win prizes such as water bottles, candy and pens.

Students placed handprints on a canvas provided by the board. If the New USU is built, the canvas with the handprints will be displayed inside, Flores said. The handprinted canvases served as a creative way for individual Fresno State students to show their support for the project.

Building the new USU will take about four to five years. It will be funded through fundraising and student fee increase of $149 per semester, according to the Fresno State New Student Union website, www.newstudentunion.com.

Reporter Aly Harrell contributed to this story.