Associated Students at UCSB is often criticized by a number of different people for a variety of reasons. Many of the more entertaining and newsworthy criticisms seen in the Daily Nexus over the last year, often in the “A.S. It Is” column, have come from people within Associated Students. What is distressing about this situation is that the hard work and dedication of the countless people in Associated Students, along with the programming and experiences that they create, are oftentimes overshadowed by pointless bickering. For those of you who don’t know, Associated Students is an organization which encompasses a wide array of student groups that bring movies and speakers to campus, as well as campaigns on issues ranging from environmental affairs to campus safety.

The intended goal of this weekly column will be twofold. First, the column will provide information on the various meetings, activities and events provided by Associated Students so that people will have a better idea of how their money is being spent and what is going on around them. The second goal of this column is to provide the reader with information on issues that will affect the student body. Associated Students, elected and appointed members, serves as the official voice of the campus, making it essential that our community knows about issues being brought up so that it can bring concerns or ideas to us.

It has already been a busy year for Associated Students. Money was recently allocated to help put on D’a de los Muertos at the end of this month. Funds were also allocated to El Congreso to put on a concert. These are only two of more than half a dozen student groups who have come to one of the various Associated Students boards in order to ask for badly needed funding to put on their events. The funding of student groups and the financial state of Associated Students is and has created quite a bit of controversy, but so will many advocacy issues.

Associated Students Legislative Council has been busy in the advocacy portion of our job as well. Legislative council has already voted in support of position papers that call for UC-wide LEED environmental standards, which would require all new and renovated buildings to be constructed and maintained in more environmentally conscious ways. A second position paper was approved of which supports the termination of nuclear weapons research done by the UC system and paid for by the Department of Energy. Finally, just this past week, a position paper was passed designating Tibetan Freedom Week at UCSB.

Legislative Council will be working to improve the safety of students by working for better lighting, increasing the visibility and number of blue light phones, and creating awareness and educating students on problems in our community as well as ways for students to remain safe. Another issue that Legislative Council will be working on is the parking situation. This means figuring out the best way the current parking crisis can be improved while still taking undergraduate concerns into account. Finally, with both alternative sources of funding and better fiscal planning, Legislative Council will make sure that the student money is not squandered but is used to enrich the student experience at UCSB.

If you are interested in becoming active on campus and/or in the community, Associated Students has a wide variety of boards and committees. These include KCSB, Program Board, Environmental Affairs Board, Community Affairs Board and the Student Coalition on Racial Equality. If any of these groups sound interesting or if you have any questions about Associated Students, please feel free to stop by the Associated Students’ main office, across from the UCen, or call the main office at 893-2566.

Alex Gossage is an off-campus representative and Chrystine Lawson is the Associated Students president.