The Associated Students of Madison passed several pieces of legislation Wednesday, including the establishment of an official mental health subcommittee.
The Student Services Finance Committee voted unanimously against University Health Services’ budget Feb. 11, which they criticized for falling short of fulfilling the mental health needs of University of Wisconsin’s students.
The council’s Mental Health Subcommittee, which passed unanimously, was designed to create an inclusive space for students and ASM members to work on mental health issues within UHS.
Legislative Affairs Chair Laura Downer presented the legislation and emphasized its role as a mechanism for students to voice their concerns and make suggestions on how to improve UHS services.
The subcommittee is set to meet at least until the end of the school term and will be extended to the next term if necessary.
When asked if the subcommittee will be making reports or recommendations to ASM, Downer said it would be a possibility.
“[Reports] could be helpful in synthesizing research that we’ve done,” Downer said.
Downer said the subcommittee would be a place for students to enter dialogue with each other, rather than a place where they are “being talked at” in a one-sided conversation.
Earlier in the meeting, Kia Vang and Pa Kou Xiong from the HMoob American Studies Committee gave a presentation on their four-year-long effort to establish an HMoob American Studies Certificate program at UW. HMoob is a version of the term Hmong that challenges the “Americanization” of the name and better reflects Hmong name, heritage and people.
After the Vietnam War, the U.S. received large numbers of HMoob refugees between 1990 and 2000. While HMoob are the largest Asian population in Wisconsin and are made up largely of college-aged people, 2018 reflected a decrease in overall HMoob enrollment at UW, according to Vang and Xiong’s presentation.
The representatives from HMASC cited a lack of support for Hmong-Americans, particularly students who are often first-generation. They explained the struggles of HMoob students at UW who face microaggressions, feelings of exclusion and a lack of representation within curriculum and among faculty.
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HMASC has been working for several years on a solution to the issues that face the HMoob-American student population, which has culminated in their proposal for an HMoob American Studies Certificate program.
At the meeting, HMASC requested ASM’s endorsement for their program and for ASM to advocate on behalf of HMASC to university administration members, who they said would play a key role in the establishment of the program.
HMASC’s request was reflected in a piece of legislation that was sponsored by several ASM members.
An amendment was proposed by Downer after several members called for more specificity in certain clauses of the legislation. The amendment clarified ASM’s endorsement of the certificate program and pointed to specific branches of administration that ASM will commit to connecting with HMASC.
The amendment and the legislation passed unanimously.