ASI funds Maddy Institute and other programs at senate meeting

ASI voted on budget calls for various Fresno State organizations at the April 7 ASI senate meeting. (Jannah Geraldo/The Collegian)

Fresno State’s Associated Students Inc. (ASI) allocated funding for the Food Security Project, The Maddy Institute, the Transgender Health Conference and Transgender Day of Remembrance during the April 7 senate meeting.

The budget calls were originally slated to be voted on at the March 24 senate meeting. However, due to time constraints, they were moved to the April 7 senate meeting.

Amy Boam, program coordinator of The Maddy Institute, requested $2,500 to help fund four student internships for the Maddy Institute in partnership with the Media, Communications and Journalism (MCJ) Department.

Boam said that the budget call will provide more funding for the Maddy Institute as a whole and will support the public affairs programming the Maddy Institute provides to students, faculty and staff at Fresno State.

“Everyone can see it, and we interview experts in policy of public affairs, and that’s available to all the students at Fresno State. And we bring in people that they might not ordinarily have the opportunity to hear from or learn from, such as state senators, congressmen [and] state auditor,” Boam said.

Senator of Student Affairs Allison Bacani motioned to reduce the funding amount to just $1,000 as she believed that, despite the content produced from the Maddy Institute, it would not have a wider impact on students.

Boam said that although the money would pay for the internship for the four students, the content they produced in the Maddy Report benefits all students. 

Boam noted that the scholarship is currently open to all students with editing and writing skill sets and not just those of the MCJ department.

The motion for partial funding of the Maddy Institute for $1,000 failed, and the motion to fully fund the Maddy Institute budget call of $2,500 succeeded.

Jessica Medina, Food Security Project coordinator, requested $10,000 in order to purchase outreach materials as well as ingredients for cooking classes and nutrition demonstration events. 

Medina cited the uncertainty of the renewal of the CalFresh Healthy Living grant, as the pilot program was unable to function as intended due to the pandemic shutting down the university in March 2020. The grant is slated to expire on Sept. 30.

“Through our nutrition education and cooking demonstrations [and] workshops, we not only hope to provide students with ways to eat healthier on a budget but also an increased knowledge of ways to reduce food waste, increase food security particularly through resource knowledge and chronic disease prevention,” Medina said.

Senator of Transfer and Veteran Affairs Sam Smith inquired whether the $5,000 for promotional materials was necessary for the Food Security Project budget call as he felt that the amount requested was too much.

Medina said that the Food Security Project would have to drop the promotional items found within their food bags, although this would not affect the integrity of the items given themselves. 

Medina noted that, currently, the volume of students is not as high as it would be if the campus was open. If the Food Security Project would like to distribute more food bags, it would need the budget call to pass in full to do so.

The $10,000 budget call for the Food Security Project passed.

Katherine Fobear, coordinator of the LGBTQ studies minor and assistant professor, requested $3,100 to help fund the upcoming Transgender Health Conference and Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Transgender Health Conference would be the first of its kind in the Central Valley and would host a number of guest speakers and workshops to advance queer involvement in healthcare, Fobear said.

“The goal of the conference is to connect medical practitioners, public health administrators, social workers and queer advocates around servicing and supporting transgender health care needs in the valley,” Fobear said.

The conference would then be followed by the Transgender Day of Remembrance event in which keynote speaker Bamby Salcedo would speak about the transgender lives lost to murder and suicide. 

“The Transgender Day Of Remembrance is a highly attended event at Fresno State. It is open to the public and many people travel miles away to attend… The 2019 event had over 150 people in attendance,” Fobear said.

Smith opposed the budget calls and said he believed the events would have a negative influence on the youth due to the event being open to the public.

“I have many constituents who have expressed this as well and I personally am not comfortable funding something that especially would be open to children to attend an event like this and basically learn things espouse this sort of medical or gender ideology. Like I said, I have many constituents who would agree so I will not be voting to fund this event,” Smith said.

Both Vice President of Finance Nicholas L. Moore and Executive Vice President Hisham Qutob reminded the senate that ASI is not a political action organization.

The budget calls for Transgender Day of Remembrance and Transgender Health Conference passed.

Requests for ASI funding are obtained through budget calls, which is funding that is taken out of the ASI reserves pool. The ASI reserves currently have around $900,000.

Funds given through budget calls do not affect the budget of the ASI senate for the following year.

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