The Associated Students of Madison Student Council passed legislation advocating for student loan cancellation, mental health break days for students and improved rights for Madison-area tenants.
Amnesty International co-sponsored the student loan cancellation legislation, which Amnesty International member Gabrielle Santor said asks the University of Wisconsin to use HEERF II funding to forgive student loans.
“Recently the U.S. Department of Education has actually advised institutions to use stimulus money for a variety of student needs, including debt cancellation,” Santor said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to provide relief for some of the debt that the university has created.”
ASM passed the legislation unanimously.
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ASM also unanimously passed legislation advocating for tenants’ rights in the Madison area. Legislative Affairs Chair Robyn George introduced the legislation and said it is designed to give tenants more protections and rights while renting in Madison.
The legislation asks City Council to pass legislation that would allow for a tenant to terminate their lease with approval from the Madison Building Inspection office and the Landlord or Tenant Issues Committee, as well as legislation allowing a tenant to not pay a full month’s rent for the last month of their lease if they do not occupy the space for the full month, among other legislative requests.
George, along with Diverse Engagement Coordinator Crystal Zhao, introduced legislation that would create a tribal affairs position on the ASM Common Council. The position would serve as a way to make sure the council hears Native American students’ voices and includes them in council discussions for years to come. This legislation was introduced tonight and will be voted on during a future meeting.
“As, I am assuming, one of the only Indigenous people on student council … I’m always contributing the Native perspective, which I’m totally fine with — that’s the point of representation,” George said. “But it would be comforting to know that there’s going to be someone always dedicated to including the Indigenous perspective even after I’m not [Legislative] Affairs Chair.”
Nominations Board Chair Lennox Owino introduced legislation advocating for UW’s dedicated wellness days to be a break for students and encourage professors to abstain from assigning work during those days.
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UW currently has March 27 and April 2 through April 4 dedicated as days off instead of a spring break, which Owino said are days the majority of students already do not have classes. The legislation passed with unanimous consent.
ASM also introduced but did not vote on legislation advocating for the university to grant graduate students remission from segregated fees without pushing the burden of those fees onto other students. The legislation will be voted on during ASM’s next meeting, according to Student Council Representative Jack Phillips.
“In order to perform our duties as graduate assistants, we have to pay back our employer segregated fees,” Phillips said. “Undergrads also have to pay back segregated fees, but graduate workers are in a different position where our entire income is coming from the university and this is essentially paying back our employer a hefty chunk of our income.”
ASM will meet again March 30 instead of the following week to account for the spring election.