Saturday, May 18

This Week: April 12

Photo credit: Helen Quach

Updates from the war in Gaza. President Biden unveils a new student debt relief plan. Podcasts editor Jack Garland and Podcasts contributor Sofia Alcomendas discuss these stories and more. Features and Student Life editor Dylan Winward joins the show to discuss surplus funding for USAC.

Jack Garland: Today is Friday, April 12, and you are listening to “This Week” by Daily Bruin Podcasts.

Thank you for joining us for another episode of this week. My name is Jack Garland, and I’m the Podcasts editor and the national correspondent today.

Sofia Alcomendas: My name is Sofia Alcomendas. I’m a podcast contributor and I’m the international correspondent today.

JG: And later on in the episode, we’ll be joined by Dylan Winward the features and student life editor for the Daily Bruin. So Sofia, let’s start off with the international news. What’s the top story from this past week?

SA: President Biden held a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address humanitarian concerns and discuss steps to work towards a ceasefire in Gaza. The call followed the killing of seven aid workers for World Central Kitchen and emphasized protecting innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. President Biden urged the prime minister to allow more aid trucks into Gaza and to be less stringent with the materials the trucks carry. He also altered his stance on a ceasefire, making it clear that U.S. relations with Israel would significantly change if one is not reached. For the first time President Biden made continued U.S. support for Israel contingent on increased aid to Gazans. A spokesperson for the Israeli government said that, “the increased aid will prevent a humanitarian crisis and is necessary to ensure the continuation of the fighting and to achieve the goals of the war.”

JG: So it sounds like Israel is still planning on continuing the fighting in Gaza. Can you tell us about their plans for the war?

SA: Yeah, although Israel said it will allow more aid into Gaza, Prime Minister Netanyahu is still pressing forward with the war effort. He announced plans to invade Rafah, which will affect around 1.4 million Palestinians who have been displaced from other areas in Gaza. Netanyahu is insistent on invading Rafah because he says it is Hamas’ last stronghold. In anticipation of the invasion, Israeli troops withdrew from Khan Yunis with many reports indicating the city is now unrecognizable and unlivable. Despite the U.S. being Israel’s closest ally, they claimed that the invasion would be a mistake and have demanded a plan to protect civilians.

JG: Thank you for those updates regarding that very important topic. What else is going on around the world?

SA: Members of the European Parliament approved a bill to overhaul migration policy in the EU. The bill makes it easier for member states to deport failed asylum seekers and to limit the entry of migrants. An important aspect of the policy is the solidarity mechanism, which will distribute migrants across the EU based on population size of the countries and the existing number of migrants in each country. If a country doesn’t want to accept the migrants, then they can opt to pay other nations for the costs associated with accommodating them.

And in other news, Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Taiwan’s former president, Ma Ying-jeou. This political meeting was scheduled amidst rising military tensions across the strait. Meeting with the Taiwanese former president was a signal to Taiwan’s next leader Lai Ching-te that Beijing’s focus is on both sides accepting that they are part of the one China despite their differences. Mr. Ma stressed the importance of peacefully avoiding conflict on both sides of the strait but Taiwan’s China policymaking Mainland Affairs Council was disappointed that Ma did not defend the sovereignty of the democratic system of Taiwan.

JG: All right, thank you for those updates, Sophia, and now we’re going to move to the national news.

President Biden is back with another plan to forgive student debt. On Monday he announced his new plan which he’s calling Plan B. His Plan A was rejected by the Supreme Court last year. That plan would have canceled up to $20,000 of debt for some borrowers.

SA: Who is eligible for this plan?

JG: This new plan would provide relief for five groups of borrowers: those whose debt payments are now more than the original amount they took out because of runaway interest, those who have carried their student debt for over two decades, those who were previously eligible for relief but were unable to secure it, those who attended compromised student programs and those experiencing extreme hardship that prevents them from paying back their loans.

SA: So what’s the Bruin angle for this story?

JG: We’ve covered President Biden’s student debt forgiveness programs in the past, and while this one is also likely to be challenged in court, it is important to be aware of potential loan forgiveness programs and to see what President Biden’s goals are for loan forgiveness.

SA: What else is going on around the country: Former President Trump posted a video statement on Truth Social Monday regarding his view on abortion. Previously, Trump seemed open to a 15-week federal abortion ban but in this statement, he said that he does not support a nationwide abortion ban, saying that the issue should be left to individual states to decide for themselves. Trump said, “we have to win,” acknowledging the unpopularity of some abortion policy advocated by Republicans.

In other news, March Madness came to a close this week. On Sunday, the University of South Carolina completed its undefeated season by beating the University of Iowa in the women’s championship. And on Monday, the University of Connecticut bested Purdue University in the men’s championship. This is South Carolina’s second win in three years and UConn’s second year in a row taking home the title. This year was the first time ever the women’s championship had more viewers than the men’s championship. According to Nielsen, the company that tracks TV viewership, 18.9 million viewers tuned in to the women’s championship, while 14.8 million tuned in for the men’s game.

SA: Thanks for those updates, Jack.

JG: And now we’re transitioning to the Daily Bruin news segment. Dylan, thanks for coming on.

Dylan Winward: Thank you for having me.

JG: What story are you telling us about today?

DW: So one of the stories that we’ve been following really closely is to do with surplus funding from USAC, which is our undergraduate student government here. At the end of every year, funding that is not used for the purposes to which it’s originally allocated in the budget or by student fees, comes back to USAC and USAC has the opportunity to vote on proposals that are put forward for how to best use that money for students. Now, one of the things that’s happened recently with this surplus funding is that two fairly large proposals were vetoed by the senate president, which means that they were rejected. They won’t be happening as they were proposed.

JG: So, are funding requests often vetoed, and can you tell us about those vetoed requests?

DW: Yeah, so this isn’t something that’s unprecedented. We saw last year that a significant request for funding to subsidize UCLA students who want to take Lyft rides was vetoed by the president, so it’s something that’s happened before. But it can be controversial when it does happen because the council originally voted in favor of that proposal. To tell you a little bit more about the requests, the first request came from the Afrikan Student Union. They requested around $110,000 of funding to support academic support, cultural shows and welcome events for the students they serve. That proposal right from the offset had controversy around it. It was submitted later than the advertised deadline. In the end, it was accepted. But there was a constitutional question about that. The person who submitted it is a former member of council who is no longer on council, so there were questions about its eligibility as well. So that was the first proposal. The second proposal came from one of the general representatives, so they’re elected to represent the UCLA body at large. They requested a $75,000 allocation for Latinx students, specifically that was supposed to be focused towards the goal of getting UCLA designated as a Hispanic-serving institution. That was also vetoed. The representative who forwarded it was not told in advance of the meeting whether or not it was going to be vetoed. In the end, they tried to challenge and override that veto with a vote of the council. If the council votes with a significant enough majority, the veto can be overridden. But that vote didn’t pass. That proposal also is not going to happen.

JG: So, it sounds like the meeting was pretty contentious. Are these funding request meetings usually that way?

DW: Yeah. So first and foremost, one of the big roles USAC has is to allocate student fees and student money. Money’s important for lots of organizations to be able to achieve those goals. So it’s always something that’s going to be controversial. All the members of the council want to serve their constituents. And this is a really powerful way of doing so. The other kind of point of tension that’s coming up is we’re coming towards election season. We recently passed the filing deadlines for candidates to run either for re-election or to be elected to sit next year, which means a lot of the current members and a lot of the current USAC senate members are thinking about their future. They’re thinking about their campaigns, and they’re thinking about how they can portray themselves as having delivered on the promises they made at the start of this academic year.

JG: Thanks for coming on, Dylan.

DW: Thank you for having me.

JG: Thanks for joining us today and make sure to come back next week for another episode.

Jack Garland
Features and student life editor

Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.

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