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ASG approves Red Brick Rewards changes, holds elections for open seats

After rejecting the Red Brick Rewards funding system the week before, Miami University's Associated Student Government (ASG) approved an amended version of the system for this semester. ASG also elected five new senators, four of whom are first-year students and one who is an international student, at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Red Brick Rewards is the system the ASG funding committee uses to allocate money to student organizations. Part of the reason for its rejection involved the Diversity and Lannigan grants. The Diversity Initiative Grant gives funding to student organizations that sponsor diversity-related programming, while the Lannigan New Initiative Grant provides funding for needs that can't be met through traditional financial aid. Previously, these grants were only available to student organizations in the third tier of Red Brick Rewards, prompting complaints that the structure restricted smaller organizations from applying. Prior to ASG's Feb. 19 meeting, Miami's Office of Student Activities decided to remove the tier requirement. Under the new amendments, student organizations' eligibility for the grants will not be determined by their tier placement within Red Brick Rewards.

Parliamentarian Max Mellott proposed the bill to amend Red Brick Rewards.

The bill changed the approval process for Red Brick Rewards, so that once a semester Red Brick Rewards will be brought before senate to be approved or rejected. Previously, changes to the system were implemented immediately, so the amendment clarified that once approved, no changes made to Red Brick Rewards will take effect until the following semester. This measure will ensure student organizations do not go without funding if ASG fails to approve the system and that new requirements are not added without giving student organizations have a chance to complete them. Mellott emphasized that Red Brick Rewards is a "living, breathing thing that is constantly changing for student organizations."

At last week's meeting, sophomore Zoe Douglas, senior Chi Zhang and first-year Victoria Villanueva ran for two senator-at-large seats.

Douglas stressed her experience as a former senator and her desire to focus on disability accessibility and racial diversity in senate.

Zhang, an international student from China, spoke passionately about his desire to focus on creating a welcoming atmosphere for Chinese students, saying that he had seen Chinese students suffering from mental health issues and dropping out of college after their first or second semester at Miami.

Villanueva spoke about her experiences establishing the first Lambda Epsilon Chi (LEX) Latinx honor society at Miami and serving as the head of human resources for the First Miami Student Credit Union.

Senate elected Zhang and Villanueva to fill the senators-at-large seats.

The remaining elections were uncontested.

ASG confirmed first-year Trey Petrella for the 1st district seat. This was Petrella's fifth time running in an ASG election and his first time winning. He highlighted his experience as an ASG alternate and proposed his plan to convert the front area of Western dining hall into a study space for students whose dorms are located far from the libraries.

First-year Christian McGowan won the 2nd district seat. McGowan described his civic engagement through his volunteer work on five different Ohio House and Senate election campaigns, and his personal connection to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, since his brother has autism.

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ASG confirmed first-year Sinait Sarfino for the 8th district seat. Sarfino, who is a member of the Lokoya tribe in South Sudan, said ASG should prioritize embracing international students.

"We're missing out on them, not the other way around," Sarfino said.