Associated Students is learning the value of a hard-earned dollar early this year – but it still has a long way to go.

This year’s A.S. has been doing a lot of things right: impressive leadership skills, stepped-up communication with the student body and, most importantly, a sense that it truly wants to right the wrongs of A.S. administrations past. But its requested fee increase of $10.40 per undergraduate per quarter – an increase that has so far been 32 years in the making – just doesn’t deserve implementation without solid financial trust between A.S. and its potential benefactors.

The money from this increase would go directly to A.S.’s unallocated fund – a fund controlled by A.S. Finance Board to be allocated to various student organizations at its mercy. Different from the lock-in fee initiatives for sectors of A.S. like the A.S. Bike Shop and A.S. Recycling that students can decide to support or reject on a case-by-case basis, this fee increase gives the student body no control whatsoever in where the money goes. That’s a lot of money to be thrown into the winds of a budget process most students know little about.

The initiative’s backers say it has the power to sustain A.S. for the next 10 years if passed. We trust this year’s A.S. administration more than we have in previous years, but that certainly won’t be the case every year over the next decade. In order to deserve the over half a million extra student dollars that A.S. would be gaining over the course of one year, it first needs to establish a plan that allows students to clearly see how their money is being spent. This year’s A.S. administration has plans for fiscal transparency in the making – a major and welcome change from years past – but the plan’s full and successful execution should come long before students go tossing huge chunks of change into A.S.’s lap.

In the meantime, A.S. needs to seek out other avenues in its search for budget-crisis resolution and exhaust all other possibilities before soliciting its most exhausted source of all – the students. Outside sources do exist, as demonstrated by fund raising successes like the $1,200 grant A.S. Student Lobby received from the Isla Vista Community Relations Committee to fund A.S.’s “Fall Defensive” campaign, not to mention the money those snazzy blue campaign T-shirts and wooden signs must have cost.

The funds have all come from somewhere, and if that much money is missing from the A.S. bank account, A.S. is going to continue having to work for it. $500,000 doesn’t come by easily, and no one says it should. Fund raising too difficult? Well, welcome to a world strapped for cash – the rest of us live in it, too.