Last night’s Associated Students Senate meeting witnessed heavy student participation with representatives from the Finance Board, The Bottom Line, several campus queer groups and other organizations all asking for support from the Senate and expressing their disappointment with recent Senate decisions.
Last week, Finance Board agreed to allocate $12,000 to TBL for honoraria alone, but the Senate ad-hoc committee reversed their decision on the grounds that, according to A.S. Financial Policy and Procedures, no more than 10 percent of the annual A.S. programs budget can be allocated to an event or project that does not benefit all students. Had the Senate approved Finance Board’s $12,000 allocation, solely honoraria for TBL would have constituted roughly 12 percent of the entire A.S. program’s budget for the year.
Despite these considerations, members of Finance Board and the TBL staff said they felt disrespected.
According to Finance Board Chair Raul Martinez, the Senate was in the wrong in making sure the allocation was in accordance with the A.S. Legal Code — which states that the Senate has “authority over the responsibility for all Associated Students’ revenues and expenditures.”
“We respect you all but we do believe that we have some autonomy as well. The way we see it, it is our job to deliberate financial matters and allocate funds,” Martinez said. “It is not your job to say ‘It should have been a higher number [or] it should have been a lower number.’”
Martinez urged the Senators to attend Finance Board meetings and get to know the members personally, adding that “we are all here for the same reasons: to make the school better.”
Many TBL staff members were equally critical of the Senate’s decision, focusing not on the legality of their request but the difficulty and legitimacy of their craft. Content editor Kelsey Gripenstraw said their product — which began printing weekly last year after several years as a monthly publication — deserves the funding based on the employees’ hard work.
“We’re doing [this] as full- time students. Most of us have part- time jobs. We don’t have a third party company to pass out papers for us; we do it all by ourselves,” Gripenstraw said.
According to layout editor Magali Gauthier, she can only prepare for her career of choice by working for the campus’s sole university-funded newspaper.
“I want to be a photo-journalist and this school doesn’t offer a journalism major,” Gauthier said. “I don’t feel like I should come up here and feel fear about expressing my opinion. … I work really hard and I feel that I should be compensated for that work.”
Senator Kaitlyn Christianson said she urged TBL staff to not take the decision as a personal insult.
“I don’t want you to feel disrespected. It’s not about thinking which [Board, Committee & Commission] is better than the other, or attacking a certain person or group,” Christianson said. “It’s about thinking about my responsibilities as a Senator.”
Other Senators shared her sentiment, explaining that some students simply cannot afford to pay the salaries of their peers.
Queer groups made up another significant presence at the meeting, asking the Senate to embrace the queer communities on campus and to recognize all that has been created within those groups.
Still other speakers came to talk about rallying in support of Proposition 30, upcoming elections for the Isla Vista Recreation and Park board and the Isla Vista Food Cooperative, which is campaigning to raise money in order to buy their current property and remain afloat.
A.S. President Sophia Armen responded positively to the plethora of public forum speakers, thanking the groups for their participation.
“This is your space,” Armen said. “Your point and opinion here are valid and real and we will listen to them.”
As of press time, the Senate had not yet begun deliberating on the number of issues raised during public forum.