ASUN Long 2.26

ASUN internal vice president Jared Long taps the gavel during a meeting in the Nebraska Union on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

After passing all six of the student fee allocation bills within the first 15 minutes of its meeting, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska spent nearly an hour discussing and debating a bill proposing a survey question regarding the red balloon release at Husker football games.

There were 13 pieces of legislature on the docket for Wednesday’s meeting, all of which passed. These bills included Fund B University Program and Facilities Fees appropriation bills 6-11 for the 2020-21 fiscal year, as well as several possible survey questions.

Sustain UNL, a recognized student organization focused on sustainability at the university, circulated a petition over the course of the school year which successfully garnered signatures from 1% of the student body, allowing the organization to propose an additional question to the ballot regarding the traditional red balloon release at Husker football games.

Representatives from Sustain UNL attended the meeting to answer questions. Skylar Hanson, junior management major and member of Sustain UNL, said that if a majority of students are open to replacing the red balloons with a more sustainable option, Sustain UNL hopes to take that data to Nebraska Athletics to initiate a conversation about replacing the balloons.

“It’s at that point that we want to take it to Athletics to show them that the majority of students agree with [replacing the balloons],” Hanson said.

A similar question was put on the ballot last year, and the Sustain UNL representatives said the main difference was a removal of the “indifferent” option. They said they wanted to obtain more conclusive data, and they decided only having “yes” and “no” options would best accomplish that.

According to Hanson, the balloons the university currently uses are not made of traditional rubber or latex and are more biodegradable, but they can still take up to approximately seven years to completely degrade, threatening wildlife and the environment in the process.

Sen. Spencer Nussrallah pointed out that the information about the balloons being somewhat biodegradable might be something that should be included in the background information section of the question on the ballot. He moved to add the information to the bill, but the amendment failed.

Some senators did not agree with the prospect of not having an “indifferent” option on the question. Sen. Riley Knust moved to add this option to the ballot, which was met with mixed reactions from the senate.

“I think that it’s a very good idea to have an indifferent option on the survey,” Jared Long, internal vice president said. “If we don’t have an indifference option, students will feel forced to pick.”

Sen. Shawn Ratcliff suggested changing the wording of the “indifferent” option to “prefer not to say.” Sen. Roni Miller moved to amend the amendment to reflect this change, which passed. However, after more discussion around Knust’s amendment, it did not pass.

The senate voted to pass the bill as it was originally presented, needing a two-thirds majority ruling to pass it.

According to the passed Fund B UPFF bills, ASUN moves to allocate $7,302,580, to the University Health Center $4,933,045 to the Nebraska Unions, $185,000 to the ASUN Readership Program receive and $1,3100,987 to Parking and Transit Services. All of these amounts represent a 0% increase from the previous fiscal year.

ASUN also moved to allocate $20 per student per semester for Campus Recreation Repair and Improvement. It's suggested that Campus Recreation will receive $8,340,771, a 0.5% increase from the previous year.

Students will vote on the student fee allocations during the election on March 10-11.

Government Bill 38 passed, adding a survey question to the spring election ballot asking students to choose their preferred homecoming theme. The options will be “2020: Perfect Vision,” “Roaring ‘20s” and “Hindsight 2020: Nebraska History.”

Government Bill 40, which proposes that ASUN officially support the University of Nebraska of Foundation divesting from fossil fuels and from supporting the Carbon Underground 200, passed.

Senate Bill 27 also passed, meaning ASUN will host a booth at the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications’s Well Beings Tour at City Impact on Thursday, March 19, from 4-8 p.m. ASUN will also allocate 300 green bandanas and resource cards from the ongoing Green Bandana Project to hand out at the event. 

Senate Bill 28 suggested another survey question to be added to the ballot asking for student opinion about adding a “warm-line” mental health resource. This would potentially require a student fee of $2.98, although Miller said this money could potentially be found from elsewhere within the student fees and not require additional cost to students. Miller said this idea was brought to her by biological sciences major Audrey Wilhelm, who crafted it as part of her senior honors thesis.

Senate Bill 29 was the final survey question to be voted on of the night, and it suggested a question asking for student opinion on transitioning from a subscription from USA TODAY to The Wall Street Journal. According to Harrahill, the reason for the possible switch was the recent initiative to move to digital-only subscriptions, which USA TODAY does not support, but The Wall Street Journal does. The bill passed.

Senate Bill 30 also passed, giving ASUN support of the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services’ Love Gala. It also allocates $45 to purchase lemonade for the event, according to Sen. Richard Maina.

The next ASUN meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, in the Platte River Room of the Nebraska Union.

Editor’s note: To keep up to date with ASUN’s progress, check out The Daily Nebraskan’s Bill Tracker.