In the true spirit of Valentine’s Day, money and marriage were the heart of matters at Wednesday night’s Associated Students Legislative Council meeting.
Acting Executive Director Paige Anderson gave a presentation on how to keep A.S.’s head above a sea of red ink. A.S.’s operating budget comes from a base fee of $9.10 charged to undergraduates at the beginning of every quarter. The fee covers staff salaries, office supplies and paperwork and has not been raised in 21 years.
"The base fee was established in 1947 and was designed to fund all of A.S. operating costs as well as student groups," Anderson said.
Since then, the fee has gone up and down between anywhere from $7 to $15 per quarter. However, more and more student groups have bypassed A.S. for their financial needs and gone directly to the students for lock-in fee funding through ballot referendums. Lock-in fee money passes through A.S., costing hours of labor and paperwork before going to students.
Anderson said if the base fee is not raised, student services will have to be cut to pay for administrative costs.
"The budget needs to be re-evaluated, whether it’s this year or next." Anderson said. "We’ve reached the point where we may need to start cutting student services [if no changes are made]."
Currently, A.S. charges lock-in-funded groups recharges on their fees, deducting money at the end of the year to pay for administrative work. Larger and profitable services, such as A.S. Notetaking, are charged more in recharges than smaller committees which cannot afford to be charged.
Leg Council has yet to take action, but most council members, including Internal Vice President Alison Scheer, said something needs to be done.
"I hope we can organize a group project on this soon," Scheer said.
In other business, Leg Council unanimously approved a bill giving both Student Lobby and Women’s Commission the ability to distribute their honoraria as they see fit, allowing them to put more money toward activities.
Scheer said both Student Lobby and Women’s Commission have almost no money left over after honoraria.
"[After they pay their honoraria], they literally have $4 left over for programming," she said. "When students voted for these lock-ins, I don’t think they were voting to support the chairs of these committees. They were voting to support programming."
Leg Council also supported the Vermont Supreme Court’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages by passing a position paper it will forward to the local elected officials in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento.
Last spring, 90 percent of students voted against Proposition 22 – a measure passed by California voters that prohibits same-sex marriages. Rep-at-Large Shaina Walters said the Vermont decision could encourage similar legislation in other states.
"The Vermont case is a stepping stone for all states," she said. "Personally, I’m saddened that friends and members of my immediate family can’t be married because of their sexual orientation."
The resolution passed by a vote of 16-3-3.
Another bill discussed last night would create a new A.S. committee, which would be known as the Students Promoting Involvement, Recognition, Interaction and Teamwork (SPIRIT) commission.
The main focus of the SPIRIT commission would be outreach, in an attempt to increase involvement and also recognize various campus organizations and departments, including Gaucho athletics, drama, music and peer health education.
The resolution was automatically tabled.