Jul 02, 2020
Illustration by Kong Thao

ASI Notebook: ASI votes to include mental health resources in course syllabuses

The Associated Students Inc. (ASI) passed a resolution to support mental health awareness and voted to approve the 2018-2019 budget at its senate meeting on Wednesday, April 18.

Resolution to add list of resources in all course syllabuses

Sen. Elias Karam, Lyles College of Engineering, presented a resolution in support of mental health resources and services at Fresno State.

The resolution called for faculty and administration to assist ASI in spreading awareness of underutilized resources on campus by including a mandatory basic needs section in all course syllabuses.

Karam said this would make vital information more accessible, considering every student receives a course syllabus during the first week of classes.

Sen. Alexandra Chavez, student affairs, spoke in favor of the resolution. She said the initiative would also promote programs that benefit the overall well-being of each student, such as the Student Cupboard and the Money Management Center.

However, there was opposition to the proposal. Dr. Thomas Holyoke, chair of the Fresno State Academic Senate, argued that the syllabus is a bloated document and that adding a list of resources would not guarantee that students would read it.
But Vice President of Finance Cam Patterson said that even if only a few students use the list to access resources, the resolution would be worth the extra pages in the syllabus.

Sen. Travis Childress, Greek affairs, agreed with Holyoke. He said that he only pays attention to the calendar and office hours on a syllabus and believes most students would do the same.

Childress also added that the resolution would be ineffective and argued that ASI would be “shooting ourselves in the foot” by claiming to have accomplished something without enacting effective change.
Karam explained that ASI has taken many steps this semester to enact effective change; including the creation of Mental Health Week and a mental health task force. He said the resolution would be a way to continue those efforts.

Sen. Casandra Ramirez-Sanchez, athletics and recreation, proposed an amendment for administration and faculty, as well as The Collegian, to “work continuously to increase awareness of mental health resources on campus.”

The amendment was seconded by Childress, while Karam questioned ASI’s ability to recruit other groups to do something.

Childress said it was within ASI’s power to “direct” groups to pursue a course of action. In a statement to The Collegian, ASI President Blake Zante said that ASI isn’t allowed to direct independent organizations to pursue any course of action.

The senate voted to approve the amendment, and the resolution passed.

Debates about next year’s budget

After the mental health resolution passed, Patterson presented the 2018-2019 budget to the senate for approval.

The budget included minimal changes but included an increased funding proposal for publicity and the addition of a new line item called “computer lab.”

The increased amount for publicity is to raise awareness about ASI among students, according to Zante.

The budget line for a computer lab refers to a potential future project to add more computers to the University Student Union, Patterson said. The creation of a budget line would give next year’s senate the opportunity to draft a formal proposal and vote on the project.

The new line item sparked a lengthy debate between Childress and Patterson about the proper way to list future projects in the budget. Ultimately, Childress made a motion to postpone the budget approval. That motion failed.

After numerous questions were answered by Patterson, the budget was voted on and approved for next year.

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