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By Amanda Riddle
Arizona Daily Wildcat
May 1, 1997

Senate restores ASD's status

The last meeting of this year's Undergraduate Senate began with a protest march of disabled students and ended in a last-minute unanimous vote to reinstate the Association of Students with Disabilities as an ASUA program and service.

In the last 10 minutes of the meeting, Sen. J.J. Rico made a motion to suspend the rules in order to vote on the ASD bylaws.

"ASD with ASUA is a powerful voice," Rico said. "If they are represented by student government, that's a loud voice and then things get done."

By a 7-0 vote, the Senate approved ASD's bylaws to be incorporated into the new constitution, which was approved in February. The constitution becomes effective today.

The Senate's vote was followed by clapping and cheering in the audience. About 21 people representing ASD and the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association attended the meeting. Many of the audience members also participated in the protest march before the meeting.

Judy Schneider, ASD member and organizer of the march, said ASD needs its ties to the Associated Students.

"The ties that ASD would have to the Senate and the other programs are invaluable ties," Schneider said. "They are certainly not available to a club."

Schneider and 14 others marched from the Center for Disability Related Resources to the Senate meeting in the "Swede" Johnson Alumni Building, chanting and holding up signs reading "Honk if you support disabled students."

Schneider said she believed the protest influenced last night's vote, although she did not know the Senate would vote again on the bylaws when she organized the march.

"I think this was a good outcome," she said.

"Thank God for J.J. (Rico)," said Brian McCracken, a former ASD director who participated in the march.

Rico said he believed suspending the rules was a violation of ASUA's constitution, but since the precedent had been set by other members of the Senate, he thought this time it could be done for the good of the students.

ASD's bylaws were not on the Senate's agenda and ASUA bylaws require all legislative body meetings to conform to the Arizona Open Meetings Law. The law states that a public body may discuss, consider or make decisions only on matters listed on the agenda.

Sen. Lauren Sliger made a motion to suspend the rules at the April 16 Senate meeting to vote again on BGALA's bylaws, which the Senate had approved by a 5-2 vote the previous week. The bylaws passed by a 5-3 vote after Sliger's motion.

Sen. Chadd Garcia, who voted against the ASD bylaws at the April 16 Senate meeting, said he changed his mind because of the persistence ASD showed in fighting against the Senate's decision to eliminate the group as a program and service.

Eight disabled students gathered in ASUA offices April 13 to protest the decision by Mindy McCollum, vice president of programs and services, not to forward ASD bylaws to the Senate for approval.

At the Senate's April 16 meeting, five of the six ASD members present spoke in favor of keeping the organization within programs and services.

The lone dissenter, Eric Olson, an optical engineering sophomore, said he believed ASD would be served better as a club because it could chose its own director.

Garcia said the addition of a sunset clause in the ASD bylaws approved last night also influenced his decision. The sunset clause states that ASD will be reviewed by the Senate at the end of the fall semester to determine the effectiveness of the organization. The Senate can vote to eliminate it at that time.

Sliger said she also changed her vote because of the sunset clause, which gives the group one more semester to prove itself.

"You will be watched very carefully if you are reinstated," Sliger said to ASD members during the meeting.

Before last night's meeting, Sliger had said she was opposed to ASD's program and service status because of the organization's lack of activity over the past year. She said ASD could serve its function as an ASUA recognized club.

A club or organization must request funding on a case-by-case basis from the ASUA Appropriations Board, while programs and services receive a line-item budget from ASUA at the beginning of the year.

ASD was not an active organization this year. ASD members said last night that they were unable to participate in the organization because of the lack of leadership by director Ann Fowler.

Fowler, a psychology sophomore, was appointed by McCollum in September, amid objections from several ASD members who said she lacked the experience necessary to lead the organization.

Fowler had no previous experience with ASD before her appointment as director.

Immediately after last night's Senate meeting, the Central Coordinating Council unanimously passed the programs and services bylaws, including the addition of ASD.

The approval of the bylaws also retained BGALA as a program and service.

BGALA's status was in question after Sliger and Garcia voted against approval of the bylaws at the CCC's April 23 meeting. The two senators said BGALA should not qualify as a program and service because it benefits a specific group of students, not the entire student body. BGALA members disagreed.

Sliger stepped down from the council last week and was replaced by Sen. Ryan Anderson. The CCC approved the bylaws with little discussion.

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