After reading Cory Anthony’s column (Daily Nexus, “No Change Comes Easily,” May 1, 2003), I was struck by a number of falsehoods that I feel should be addressed. Being the only elected officer of Associated Students mentioned by name, and misquoted to boot, I feel as if I have a responsibility to answer.
To be fair, not all of Mr. Anthony’s complaints are baseless. Legislative Council has had a problem with absences. There is no excuse for that. I apologize for my part in it and I am sure that my colleagues feel the same. Moreover, I agree that certain members should have been removed at the March 6 meeting. However, this does not excuse Mr. Anthony’s more irresponsible criticisms.
One of the more persistent accusations is that A.S. has mismanaged its budget. As a member of Finance Board, I take great exception to this. The big reason why there is a current budget problem is because the base fee, the primary means of funding A.S., has not been raised in 31 years. Because of inflation, the spending power of the money collected has decreased over time. During this same time period, A.S. has not only tried to maintain current student services but to increase them. Combined with the unfavorable economic climate, this causes the A.S. budget concerns.
Faced with this obstacle, Finance Board met last quarter to formulate a budget to submit to A.S. President Chrystine Lawson. When we started, A.S. faced a deficit of $43,563. After some difficult cuts and a great deal of cleverness on Ms. Lawson’s part, the budget that will be submitted to Leg Council in the coming weeks will be balanced while maintaining those services that are most important to the student body.
In regards to President Lawson, she does not deserve to be raked over the coals for her actions during the recall election. The accusation is that she violated the A.S. Constitution by endorsing Supervisor Gail Marshall. It is indeed against the A.S. Constitution and By-Laws to formally endorse a political candidate. However, Ms. Lawson did not do that. She simply used her title as a means of identification while informing her constituents of her personal opinion. She should be applauded for this, not demonized. If you have had the opportunity to work with Ms. Lawson, you know that she has been a tireless advocate for UCSB students. Their best interest has always been her primary concern.
This year’s student government has been accused of disregarding our constituents’ views in favor of our own. As any political science major would tell you, there are two philosophies regarding representation. The first philosophy, called the delegate model of government and implicitly endorsed by Mr. Anthony, states that representatives should vote exactly how their constituents would. Frankly, this model reduces us to a group of people who can count up to 50 percent plus one and raise our hands accordingly. The other philosophy, the trustee model, states that we were elected as reasoning, autonomous individuals who think in terms of our constituents’ best interests. This is the model I follow and I believe it fits the thinking of a majority of the other A.S. representatives.
As a final note, I would like to address the comments that have been quoted twice. I made the whole “sinking ship” comment in jest. It would be my luck that a reporter was in the room when I made the statement. In truth, I decided not to run again this year because I hate campaigning. Next year, I hope to continue my involvement with A.S. by serving on some of the boards and committees. I am very proud of what S.A.C. has been able to achieve and what I have personally accomplished this year. I encourage everyone to participate. Right now, A.S. is accepting applications for next year’s committees. Stop by the A.S. Main Office next to the MultiCultural Center to learn more.
Anthony Flores is an off-campus Legislative Council representative for A.S.