USG passes mental health legislation; Overrides anti-AAPI hate legislation veto

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UMass Boston’s Undergraduate Student Government held a General Assembly on April 7 in which mental health legislation was passed, and a veto regarding legislation surrounding the condemnation of hate toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was overridden.

USG’s General Assemblies are conducted via Zoom, and are led by Speaker Farrin Khan. Members of the USG vote on legislations throughout the Assembly via Google Document, and the passing of legislation is usually announced during the meeting.

This assembly began with the introduction of legislation addressing student awareness of access to mental health resources on campus. The legislation was introduced by Senator Macie Jones, who firstly, read the letter sent to administration regarding the issue, and secondly, outlined the piece of legislation itself.

Executive Director of University Health Services, Rob Pomales, attended the assembly, and provided remarks following Senator Jones’s presentation.

“This is an excellent piece of legislation, and I very much encourage you to pass it,” said Pomales. “[I] congratulate you on really getting to the bottom of what needs to happen for our health services, mental health in particular, to have better awareness.”

The legislation was moved to a vote, and passed.

Next, legislation regarding the condemnation of hate against the AAPI community was discussed.

At an earlier session, this legislation had been vetoed by the executive branch. In a statement, President Janrey Javier and Vice President Jaely Pereira explained their decision to veto the proposed legislation.

“We would like to clarify that we are not against the intentions behind the resolution and do appreciate the efforts and sentiment,” reads the statement. “We are disappointed in the brief and overly general, current state of this resolution and the minimal process it underwent to be passed. We ask that this resolution be recomposed with proper representation for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at UMass Boston, including acknowledgement of history, stories, and voices.”

At the Assembly, Speaker Khan opened the floor to members of the AAPI community to speak first.

“We do still stand by our decision to veto this legislation, and stand by the reasonings behind it as well,” said President Javier. “And to put my role as President aside for a second and speak as an Asian American, I ask the Senate not to override the veto out of respect for the Asian American community, and hope that this is a moment for learning and growth.”

Debate opened up on the floor, mostly in respectful disagreement with President Javier’s stance.

“I just wanted to say I agree with President Javier in the sense that we should be reaching out to our Asian centers and Asian clubs to get their input, and then pass legislation that corresponds with that,” said B&F Chair Bates. “I just think . . . this piece of legislation, the point of it was to renounce or condemn the acts of violence towards Asian people or AAPI people, and to also just show that USG is an ally with them. I think it was pretty straightforward in that regard.”

The veto was overridden, and the legislation regarding the condemnation of hatred against the AAPI community was pushed through.

Following this conversation, discussion surrounding the implementation by the USG of an Anti-Racist Legislation Committee was led by CCA Chair Loboa Velazques.

After this, Senator Roberson led a discussion on a proposed vote of no confidence legislation, which was tabled in the interest of time.

The Assembly ended with a short open forum. The USG holds General Assemblies every other Wednesday, and they are always open to the public. The Zoom ID for these meetings is: 383 142 4971.

 

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