With voting for the Associated Students Initiative beginning Tuesday, representatives from several campus organizations said they are supporting the $10.40 base fee increase, anticipating the financial benefits such an increase will bring to their groups.
UCSB Associate Dean of Student Life Carolyn Buford said there is a large gap between what students are capable of producing and what A.S. can actually fund. She said that gap would lessen if the initiative passes. Richard Jenkins, activities adviser for the Office of Student Life, said the fee increase is good for A.S. as well as all on-campus organizations.
“Among the good things about the fee is students and organizations benefit from it – directly investing in themselves and their future with their money,” Jenkins said. “So they are the direct beneficiaries. They determine what gets funded and what doesn’t – and that’s a rare bureaucracy.”
Voting on the measure will be held online on GOLD starting Tuesday, and will end Thursday. If passed, the A.S. Initiative would raise the base fee that students pay to a total of $19.50 per undergraduate per quarter.
All undergraduates currently pay a total of $56.23 per quarter in student services fees, $9.10 of which goes toward supporting A.S.’s administrative costs and funding student clubs. The remaining money goes toward lock-in fees specifically allocated to other on-campus organizations.
Currently, on-campus organizations have the option of requesting money from A.S. Finance Board to help fund particular events or activities; however, that option has been hindered by the present A.S. budget shortage. A.S. representatives said the current $9.10 base fee, which has not been raised since 1972, is no longer a sufficient amount to support the nearly 400 on-campus organizations eligible for such funds.
Many on-campus organizations said they feel the benefits that will be made possible with the initiative are clear.
Aseye Allah, chair of the Black Student Union (BSU), said the group is largely affected by the A.S. budget because it depends heavily on money from student government to help fund events, such as Black Culture Week. She said BSU is an African-American umbrella organization, which means any black organization that comes to A.S. is under the BSU umbrella. If A.S. does not have money, Allah said, BSU cannot help these groups.
Allah said BSU is actively campaigning alongside A.S. to make sure the initiative passes because the group understands the importance of the measure.
“Many of us are involved in A.S.,” she said. “Most of us have shirts. I tabled [Monday]; somebody is tabling all the time from BSU. In the end, it helps us because we get money allocated to us.”
Kate Masters, a member of the Excursion Club, said the group supports the initiative because, although the club does not rely on any funds from A.S., many of its sister organizations do.
“We highly support [the initiative],” Masters said. “A lot of us are wearing T-shirts. The majority of the executive council is planning on helping. … [The initiative will] help a lot of our sister clubs like [Environmental Affairs Board].”
Other groups have said that, even though they do not depend on A.S. for financial support, they still feel the initiative is a good thing.
“We don’t depend on any funding [from A.S.]. In the past, we have received funding for certain events, but it’s not consistent, so we really don’t depend on it,” said Alexandra Moffitt, president of Naked Voices.
Moffitt said even though they have not discussed it as a group, as an officer, she feels raising the base fee would be a positive thing and that Naked Voices would support the initiative.
Shamik Patel, financial chair of Indus, an East Indian cultural group, said Indus relies much more heavily on their own fund raising than funding from A.S., but that it is still in favor of the initiative.
“I would say Indus supports it because we will have more money in the end,” Patel said.
However, College Republicans Treasurer Patrick Callahan said his club is skeptical that A.S. needs as much money as it claims.
“We are not sure because they haven’t really given us the facts,” Callahan said. “We are concerned that we are paying for politics, in part.”
He said that a lot of A.S. funds go to areas that the College Republicans do not necessarily agree with. The A.S. Lobby, he said, is an example of one of those areas. He said undergraduates pay A.S. to have people represent them in politics in Sacramento, but students cannot be sure they are being represented correctly.
Callahan said that despite his concerns – and even though the College Republicans do not depend on A.S. for funding – the group will support the A.S. initiative if A.S. can show that it truly needs more money to augment the fund raising it already does.
Amnesty International’s James Thorn said that although his organization is a self-sufficient group and has never seriously pursued money from A.S., it still supports the initiative.
“We support it because we know, theoretically, we can get money,” he said.
But Thorn said Amnesty International was slightly put off by A.S.’s advertising for the initiative.
“We are annoyed at the huge publicity campaigns they can put on,” Thorn said. “They are stamping out our efforts.”
Buford said she is aware of the negative images that are sometimes associated with A.S., but she also said the idea that A.S. is living richly is false.
“Student council doesn’t spend any money on itself,” Buford said.
Jenkins said he disagrees entirely with the notion that A.S. is spending money irresponsibly.
“I would seriously challenge that,” he said. “I would be damned surprised. Just go look at the books and say, ‘Where is [the money]?'”
Buford said the student government is running out of money and this initiative is the next step needed to sustain on-campus activities hosted by students.
“It is student money for student activities – decided by students,” Buford said. “A.S. is for the students, by the students and about the students. I think that is important.”