The Associated Students Legislative Council discussed issues ranging from student fees to the campus voter registration drive at last night’s three-hour meeting.
Despite allotting a seemingly generous $3 billion to the UC system in his 2010-11 state budget, council members voiced concern that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s allocation wasn’t enough to lift the University out of its financial deficit. According to A.S. External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Doug Wagoner, UCSB will still face a $439.9 million shortfall in 2011-12.
Additionally, Wagoner said UC VP of Budget Patrick Lenz alluded to future fee hikes for UC students during a UC Student Association board meeting over the weekend.
“[Lenz] danced around the fact that there’s probably going to be a 20 percent student fee increase in November and he also didn’t answer any of our questions very well,” Wagoner said. “I encourage you all to research more into the budget to see where the money’s going in our dire state.”
The council also discussed the 1993 court case Smith v. Regents, which prohibits the use of student fees to lobby any proposition or candidate. A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez cautioned the council to remember its expenses are regularly audited in compliance with Smith v. Regents.
“Taking a position either way on an issue is not a violation of Smith v. Regents,” Marquez said. “What is a violation is spending any student fees to defeat or support any particular proposition or candidate. However, the educational process is not a political process; I’d be putting out the message that we’re investing in the educational mission.”
Off-Campus Representative Jason Lopez questioned the legality of funding a group such as the Rock the Vote campaign, if the organization used the money to favor of a local candidate.
Marquez recommended the council seek her advice when unsure whether an allocation was in line with Smith v. Regents, Off-Campus Representative and Finance Board member Chloe Stryker requested Marquez give a similar talk about the case at Monday’s Finance Board meeting.
“If you had come and given that presentation [last] Monday, that probably would have changed the outcome a lot,” Stryker said.
Marquez then went on to discuss the Associated Students’ role in Steve Pappas’ lawsuit against Board of Supervisors Representative Doreen Farr, in which Pappas claimed that the Associated Students had potentially mishandled registration forms during the 2008 election. Though the case was dropped, Pappas has recently appealed the decision.
“A.S. and the campus itself were subpoenaed as witnesses, and we were compelled to respond,” Marquez said. “We need to comply because the suspicion is that Associated Students was conducting voter registration that wasn’t following election code. We’re potentially involved, and that’s something you should all be aware of.”
Lastly, Wagoner congratulated UCSA’s recent voter registration effort on campus. As of 11:30 Tuesday night, 5,284 UCSB student voters had registered for the upcoming election. UCSA hopes to register a total of 7,000 voters by the end of the drive on Monday.