USG proposes inclusion of accessibility assembly

Undergraduate Student Government proposed a resolution that aims to increase representation of disabled students on campus. 
(Ally Wei | Daily Trojan)

The Undergraduate Student Government proposed a resolution to incorporate the Student Assembly for Accessibility under the Programming Branch of USG during the Senate meeting Tuesday. SAA represents students with disabilities on campus. 

The Programming Branch of USG currently encompasses a variety of student organizations, including five special-interest committees that plan campus events and 10 community-focused assemblies that represent the interests of different student groups. Assemblies such as the Black Student Assembly and Queer & Ally Student Assembly serve as funding and advocacy umbrella organizations that unify individual member organizations. 

USG Director of Accessibility Affairs Gwen Howard, who helped draft the resolution, said the inclusion of SAA under the Programming Branch would allow the organization to reap the various benefits of USG’s recognized assemblies. These benefits include increased funding and greater visibility and support that comes from a USG endorsement. 

“What works best to change culture is bringing people together and talking about different issues,” Howard said. “That really can’t happen without a budget and settings and venues and being able to be face-to-face with other people and build camaraderie around that.”

Statistics cited in the resolution indicate that disabled students do not believe they receive adequate services or recognition on campus. A 2018 survey conducted by former USG Director of Accessibility Affairs Hailey Robertson found that 50% of participants were not satisfied with the level of academic support and resources for accessibility. 

Co-director of SAA Javin D’Souza, who collaborated on the resolution with Howard, said the resolution would also build a stronger community on campus for disabled students. 

“This overarching representation is at least going to send a message to students that there is a space for you when there historically has not been,” D’Souza said. 

The resolution has garnered the support of Colleges Against Cancer, Kicks for Kids, National Alliance on Mental Illness and Eye to Eye, all founding member organizations of SAA. 

The resolution calls for SAA to be integrated as the 11th cultural assembly of the Programming Branch after a successful trial period, which would last from Jan. 13 to March 31. SAA would be granted $6,000 from the administrative budget during the trial semester to fund member organization expenses. 

During the meeting, the Senate also passed more amendments to the 2020 Elections code to clarify issues of candidate endorsement and elections teams. USG members, excluding those from the Elections and Recruitment team, Judicial Council, associate director of marketing, director of graphics and the elections commission, may publicly support and campaign on behalf of candidates. However, they cannot endorse candidates, and support cannot hold affiliation with USG.