These legislative priorities were passed by the 86th Session of the ASUN Senate in order to inform the lobbying efforts during the 80th Session of the Nevada State Legislature.
The cost of higher education in our state is continuing to rise. Since 2012, the cost per credit at the University of Nevada, Reno has risen by nearly 20%, while the real median household income for Nevadans has only risen by 8.98%. Between 2012 and 2016, need-based aid disbursed from the state was decreased by 6%. Our state should be focused on addressing the need for more funding towards education – at all levels. Higher education should be an opportunity for all, not just those who can afford it. We support initiatives like the creation of the Battle Born Opportunity Grant for university students and the expansion of the Silver State Opportunity Grant for students at community and state colleges. These need-based grants will greatly benefit many of our students in this state.
In our 2018 Campus-Wide Civic Engagement Survey 2% of students who took the survey indicated they did not have a home, and 22% of students who took the survey indicated they experienced food insecurity. Not only does housing and food insecurity inhibit students from fulfilling their basic needs, they are also not able to dedicate themselves fully to their education. We support initiatives to create a state interagency council on homelessness and the allocation of funds to go towards providing more affordable housing for students.
The University of Nevada, Reno has already put forth much effort to make our campus more sustainable. Within the Joe Crowley Student Union, the University displays a prioritization of energy efficiency. The University also has a single-stream recycling program. In 2015, between 15 and 20 tons of waste was being recycled. We now have the ability to improve on these efforts through the legislature. Environmental sustainability is an issue that could have direct positive impacts on the health and future of our student body. During the last semester, we witnessed deadly forest fires across California. The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a report in 2016 on the impacts of climate change on Nevada that concluded droughts caused by earlier snow melts and decreased precipitation, as well as higher temperatures are, “likely to increase the severity, frequency, and extent of wildfires in Nevada.” These fires burned down the homes and displaced the families of many of the students we represent. Furthermore, smoke from these fires severely contaminated our Reno air. Forest fires in general are not limited to California. Since 1984, about five percent of our state’s land has been burned per decade, on average. More drastic temperatures overall within Nevada also have detrimental effects on water availability, health, and agriculture. Decreasing water availability threatens Nevada’s farmlands and crops. Our hope is that the threat of climate change can bring this legislature to think of ways our state can better adapt and mitigate the effects.
In a recent student town hall, large amounts of students came before the ASUN Senate and spoke about issues with sexual assault on campus. Many students made it clear that they felt either ASUN or the University administration could be doing more to resolve this issue. Students mentioned the barriers they face to reporting the sexual violence, including the campus culture and lack of knowledge on the Title IX process. We advocate that legislators create an interim committee to conduct a study on the prevention of sexual assault on college campuses. AB176 could resolve some of these issues, through their efforts to enact a bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault. Legislation on the rights of sexual assault survivors has also been introduced in Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, New York, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.