UCSB Associated Students is financially strapped and looking for cash, again.
For the second year in a row, A.S. will be asking students to vote for an increase in the Student Services and Activities Fee, also known as the base fee, which covers staff salaries, office supplies and paperwork. The base fee has not been raised since 1972.
Last Spring, A.S. proposed a $5.90 per quarter increase of the current $9.10 fee, which failed, receiving just below 40 percent of the vote. A.S. Finance Board Chair Delisha Stanley said that without a higher base fee, A.S. cannot afford to cover basic operational costs or give money to student groups.
“Last year, we didn’t have enough money, and since the base fee didn’t pass, we weren’t able to give our student groups as much money as they asked for,” she said.
A.S. has experienced financial woes as a result of the failure of the base-fee initiative coupled with rising costs due to inflation. A.S. employs approximately 200 students through the bike shop, note taking and other services and minimum wage for the employees has steadily increased, Acting Executive Director Carolyn Buford said.
“Our budget is going to be even smaller than it was last year, and we’re also dealing with inflation which has caused the price of a lot of things to go up,” Stanley said. “What it looks like this year is that if the base fee doesn’t pass we’ll be in the same situation again where we won’t have the money to cover basic operational costs for A.S. entities, and we for sure won’t have any money for student groups.”
Buford said that the current base fee is not stretching far enough to cover the costs of running A.S.
“There are 30 years of inflation and increasing needs that haven’t been addressed by that fee,” said Buford.
The money in the unallocated fund – part of the budget not designated for certain costs or groups and dispersed by Finance Board to fund various student organizations – has diminished significantly this year. Last year A.S. started the year with $90,000 and this year they had $30,000 to start with, Buford said.
A.S. Leg Council representatives took a 30 percent pay cut in their honoraria, which averaged between $180 and $400 before the cut, to be used for the unallocated fund.
A.S. Internal Vice President Shaina Walter said the people most affected by A.S.’s lack of funds will be the students.
“Student groups are the hardest hit since we have significantly less money to give out to them this year,” she said.
A.S. President Brian Hampton said students did not vote for the base fee last year because they were not properly informed about it.
“I f all the voters who voted for against it understood all the events we could put on with a couple extra dollars per student, then they would have supported it, but instead there was a lack of knowledge,” he said.
An A.S. committee is currently conducting a student survey in order to determine an appropriate base fee to propose for this year, but a specific dollar amount has not yet been agreed upon.
Hampton said that in the coming months A.S. will be making an effort to educate students about the base fee and what that money will be used for.