Just when we thought elections were over, Associated Students steps up to the plate. A special election has been called for Nov. 16 through 18 to decide on an increase of funds for A.S. As a student relying on financial aid and a job to pay for school, more money for just about anything sounds like nails on a chalkboard. I actively lobbied our state government in Sacramento for lower student fees, and I feel like the youth in California are getting the shaft in this year’s fiscal plan. So why opt to pay more to our student association?
Well, Associated Students does a lot more than you may think. Have you ever bought your reader at the A.S. note-taking office instead of at the expensive alternatives in I.V.? Have you attended any of the numerous concerts, movies or performances put on by A.S. Program Board? Involved in a student organization? Play on an intramural sports team? Then you’ve benefited from one of the many things made possible by your Associated Students.
For a small fee, dedicated students in A.S. offer a handful of services and put on a whole slew of activities that you won’t have access to once you’ve graduated and moved back to your mom’s house. If you’re not taking advantage of them, you’re missing out on a great part of college. There really is something for everyone. If you don’t believe me, just ask one of the many people dressed in true blue, organic, sweatshop labor-free T-shirts as they parade around campus campaigning for this special election.
Here’s the real kicker: It turns out that A.S. has been stuck with the same base fee since 1972. Are you kidding me? Inflation alone would lay waste to such a stagnant funding source. Staff wages and utility, maintenance and event costs have gone up along with every other cost of life, yet the funding has gone nowhere. For those of you who weren’t alive in 1972, which would be the majority, the minimum wage was $1.60 then. Minimum wage today: $6.75. Along with everything it now offers, there are rumors that A.S. wants to start an I.V. Foot Patrol/UC Police oversight committee to check the unlawful law officers. Hello! I’d sell my only pair of underwear to put an end to the ridiculous “Fall Offensive.” Half of I.V. should be behind me on this one, but A.S. efforts to regulate police are only going to slow down if they don’t get more funding.
Just as a comparison, students at every other UC support their student associations far more than we do. Berkeley students pay over $100, the Anteaters at Irvine pay $54, and the kids in San Diego pay $21. The thousands of students who are actively involved in Associated Students at UCSB, and the thousands more who benefit, deserve to have a better student association. I know none of you would have turned down an opportunity to go to Cal just because they pay more for their student association.
So we lost the presidency, but we can still do good for ourselves where we have the most power here on campus and in I.V. Give our Associated Students a chance to really kick ass and vote yes on the A.S. Initiative next week on GOLD.
Aaron Gilliam is a senior environmental studies major.