ASUU address draws small crowd

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

Student government leaders expressed their dedication to U students last night during the annual State of the ASUU address in the Union, but the Saltair room was mostly empty except for a small group of ASUU leaders and Daily Utah Chronicle reporters.

“The people in this room have a sincere desire to benefit the students and the university as a whole,” said Spencer Pearson, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah.

Pearson said he wished more students would have attended, noting that attendance to ASUU events is always “sporadic,” but promised ASUU will continue to seek student support and promote events in its monthly newsletter.

In the address, ASUU executives recapped top accomplishments for the year so far, including approval for the Graduation Guarantee advising plan and the $3 fee increase to subsidize study-abroad scholarships, and efforts to pass a bill in the Utah State Legislature to remove sales tax on college textbooks statewide.

The ASUU Senate and General Assembly passed bills to create the Graduation Guarantee and study-abroad fee last month.

With the Graduation Guarantee, students will have the option to meet with an adviser monthly to map out a direct course to graduation, not to exceed five and a half years depending on the student’s situation. If a student participates, he or she is guaranteed class availability for needed courses, or the counselor will create alternatives or refund tuition for that course. Students will also be encouraged to meet with career counselors to look into job and internship opportunities.

The Graduation Guarantee will be implemented next fall and goes along with the U’s mandatory advising plan that started this year.

“With this program we ensure students getting the academic advising they need and deserve,” ASUU Vice President Basim Motiwala said.

Pearson discussed the new $3 study abroad fee, which will pay for scholarships for students to study or intern internationally. The administration has agreed to match $1 for every student to go into an endowment fund to pay for these scholarships in the long run, but the student money will be distributed annually.

“International experiences are becoming more and more the norm,” Pearson said. “In the future they will be necessary not to give (a student) the leg up, but to remain competitive.”

The ASUU Government Relations Board is currently lobbying at the State Legislature for a bill it will introduce in the upcoming session calling for a tax cut on college textbooks. All Utah colleges and universities are partnering in support of the bill, which Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, is sponsoring.

“We know there will be hurdles, but we are more than ready to jump those hurdles and meet the challenges,” said Marko Mijic, director of the Government Relations Board.

Senior Class President Nicole Nguyen said the Senior Class Council is in the process of choosing a class gift. Students can vote on four options on the ASUU website: helping fund a showcase in the Alumni House, buying the “world’s largest book” for the Marriott Library, funding a bronze statue of the “Swoop” mascot or contributing to final costs of the ASUU child care center, which will be finished in the spring.

Chief of Staff Greg Stillman highlighted other accomplishments, including jump-starting the campus recycling plan, diversity efforts, a new newsletter and reaching out to non-traditional students.

ASUU advertised the Rock the U dance marathon that will be held in March to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

“This event is important to help us reflect back on our semester — what was successful and what could use evaluation,” Stillman said.

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Lennie Mahler

ASUU Spencer Pearson, right, flanked by vice president Basim Motiwala, leads the “state of” address.