UC Santa Barbara Associated Students Senate passed a resolution last Sunday providing funds for students who cannot afford to leave campus to travel home and away from the Thomas Fire.
Kian Maalizadeh, transfer senator and fourth-year biology major, created the resolution on Dec. 8. Ilene Ochoa, an off-campus senator and fourth-year communication major, seconded the resolution, which was later passed through an email vote on Dec. 10.
Email votes are usually used only in emergency situations, Maalizadeh said. Senators used an email vote because the fire grew quickly after their last planned meeting.
According to the resolution, the Senate will take $5,000 from their unallocated fund which is made up of student fees, and a detailed list of what was purchased will be sent back to Associated Students (A.S.).
Maalizadeh said the resolution was made intentionally vague because he anticipates that many unforeseen problems could arise during the fire.
He said he created the resolution because he wanted to show A.S.’s support for the students affected by the fire.
“A lot of students were calling UC admin saying they couldn’t leave, they couldn’t afford to leave; they were stuck, basically in the pollution,” Maalizadeh said.
He said A.S. released polls asking students if they needed aid to get off campus, and the overall response was “yes.”
The deadline to request funds was 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 14 so that the Financial Crisis Response Team could process checks in a “timely manner,” according to Maalizadeh.
A.S. Senators posted on Facebook about the resolution and told students to email A.S. Executive Director Marisela Márquez by the deadline if they needed transportation funds.
Márquez forwarded the students’ full names and student identification numbers to the university’s Financial Crisis Response Team, which then decided how much money a student would be awarded for transportation on a case-by-case basis, Maalizadeh said.
Out of the $5,000 that was allocated, $2,800 was used as of Dec. 14, according to Michael Miller, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment services.
Students who responded by the 10:30 a.m. Thursday deadline were able to pick up checks at 3 p.m. from the BARC office, Miller said. Students who responded after that deadline but before 10:30 a.m. Friday can pick up their checks by 3 p.m. today.
Miller said the amount of money given to students depended on their destination and was based off the cost of a Amtrak ticket. He explained that a student who needed to travel south to Los Angeles or San Diego was given approximately $40.
Students who needed to travel north to San Francisco or Sacramento were given approximately $100 for the fare, Miller said.
Approximately 50 students received funding, according to Brooke Kopel, a college of letters and sciences senator and third-year political science major.
The Thomas Fire has burned 252,500 acres and is 35 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Mandatory evacuations have occurred across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and 972 structures have been destroyed. Governor Jerry Brown and President Donald J. Trump declared a state of emergency in California in response to the fire.
Chancellor Yang postponed Fall Quarter finals to the week of Jan. 8 in response to “concerns regarding air quality issues and transportation” and numerous power outages, according to an email sent out to students on Dec. 10.
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