Aug 08, 2020

Senate fails to agree on recall standards

At the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) meeting Wednesday, the senate considered minimum-GPA standards for a Centennial Scholarship Award and the minimum threshold for petition signatures in order to recall senators.

The Centennial Scholarship is a proposal that offers yearly grants to students of all grades who demonstrate academic success, student leadership and community service.

Sen. Selena Farnesi said she is very excited to see ASI give out this scholarship, and added that it doesn’t cut into ASI’s operating costs.

“It won’t affect any of the current funding or programs students see around campus,” Farnesi said in an e-mail interview. “This scholarship promotes that attitude by rewarding students who demonstrate academic accountability and an emphasis on civic engagement.”

Sen. Pedro Ramirez was the only senator who objected to the $25,000 one-time endowment for the scholarship, stating it would be better to use ASI reserves, accumulated ASI surpluses, to fund programs that would help all students rather than a select few.

Vice President of Finance Lauren Johnson said large endowments, like the Centennial Scholars Endowment, do not come out of the normal ASI operating budget, but rather from reserves accumulated from previous surpluses.

Sen. Cody Madsen, who sat on the committee that presented the information to the senate, said the award will be able to support students indefinitely, and since it was an award started by students, for students, it will encourage donor support for the endowment.

Included in part of the application requirement, students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. This is common standard throughout the California State University system for scholarship awards, but it was met with some resistance from ASI senators.

Sen. Amy Wilson was one of the senators who advocated the importance of lowering the minimum GPA standard to 2.5, citing her own circumstances coming out of high school as an independent student without a quality GPA.

“I had a lot of trials and tribulations growing up when I first came in [to Fresno State] and my GPA was really low because I didn’t have a good foundation of how to be a good student,” Wilson said. “I don’t think [lowering the GPA requirements] will take away from the competitiveness of it and I think students will have a chance to represent themselves in the application process.”

The senate also discussed the conditions of a recall policy that will allow students to remove senators that they feel are not doing an adequate job.

The senate could not come to an agreement on the language of the policy, which stipulates a 15-percent threshold among the constituents of the senator in question. After the petition is verified, it would require a two-thirds vote of those eligible students voting in the recall.

The motion could not pass, and it was sent back to the legal committee because some senators wanted a 10-percent threshold.

According to Sen. Brie Witt, the threshold is tricky because the number that 15 percent represents can greatly differ between college senators and at-large senators.

“Having this single number would basically require the same number of signatures for executives and senators at large but it would be a variable number for college senators based on the size of their college,” Witt said.

Witt said the senate wants the threshold to represent the seriousness of a recall, and not simply reflect the feelings of a few upset students. A recall would also cost money.

In current form, the policy states all of the senator’s constituents can vote in a recall. Some senators argued that students who didn’t vote in the election should not be allowed to vote in a recall.

Witt argued that accommodating this request would be difficult to implement, but also unfair.

“I represent all of my constituents,” Witt said. “If they are not happy with what I am doing then they have every right to have a say on whether I stay or go, regardless of whether or not they voted to put me in office.”

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