The Associated Students Senate unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday night supporting the development of a basic needs resource center — a project spearheaded by Associated Students President Allison Sir.
The Basic Needs Resource Center (BNRC) would place various Associated Students (A.S.) resource entities under the purview of the current A.S. Food Bank, which would be renamed to the “A.S. Food Bank and Basic Needs Resource Center” and include the A.S. Food Bank, Child Care Grant, A.S./Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Emergency Grants, the Community Financial Fund Grant and the Graduate Student Association Food Pantry, according to the resolution.
A.S. President Alison Sir began working on the BNRC over the summer along with A.S. Executive Director Marisela Márquez.
“So Marisela and I created a proposal this summer when we realized that this $1.2 million from UC Office of the President was going to be sent to each campus, and we decided this would be a great opportunity for A.S. Food Bank,” Sir said.
Besides the opportunity to centralize A.S. basic needs resources, Sir hopes the center will eventually consolidate financial workshops and CalFresh advocates in one place for students to access.
The BNRC would not be in a different location but would move into the current A.S. Food Bank area. One key element of the BNRC is a case management system, which would track what students are accessing in order to assess student needs.
The resolution was authored by On-Campus Senator Adalis Rojas and seconded by Off-Campus Senator Kimia Hadidi and calls senators to “support its expansion and work to reach out to the UCSB community about these opportunities,” the resolution states.
Rojas’ resolution also addresses a separate A.S. project — an A.S. book grant, which will provide funding for students to purchase textbooks.
Rojas told her fellow senators during Wednesday’s meeting that this resolution is a way to “centralize what students’ needs are instead of everything being scattered about.”
“I spoke to Alison and Marisela and we did consider making it two separate resolutions, but they both advised for me to just include it under one, so that’s just how it came out to be,” Rojas said to the Nexus.
Rojas said one of her key senate campaign platforms was textbook affordability, so when Márquez approached Senate last week about authoring resolutions for the BNRC and the A.S. Book Bank, she decided to write both into one resolution.
“I do know that food insecurity and textbook affordability is a huge, popular issue among the senators that we all want to solve,” Rojas said.
The resolution states that the current EOP Emergency Grant can be used for textbooks but only if a textbook has been lost, damaged or stolen — not in the case of students who cannot afford textbooks at all.
Sir has not yet announced how the new book grant funds will be allocated.
During Wednesday’s Senate meeting, Hadidi referenced last Friday’s Basic Needs Town Hall, held at Corwin Pavilion, where students addressed both campus and local leaders about accessibility to basic resources to combat food insecurity.
“Many students have a lot of issues with what’s going on in their lives on campus. I think there’s a lot of concerns about housing and homelessness for students and right now we can’t address that, so I think supporting this resolution is really important,” Hadidi said to her fellow senators during the meeting.
Sir has not unveiled a timeline for either the BNRC or the book grant to be set in motion. Currently, Márquez and Sir are working to source more contribution from financial boards for the BNRC and are trying to gain more student support for both of the measures.
Evelyn Spence contributed reporting.
A version of this article appeared on pg. 5 of the Oct. 10, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Katherine Swartz is an asst. news editor at the Daily Nexus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.