Hoping to maintain its current level of programming, Associated Students Community Affairs Board (CAB) is asking undergraduates to sign a petition that would place a lock-in fee increase initiative on the Spring Quarter campuswide elections ballot.
CAB, a division of A.S. that funds and organizes community service projects, needs to gather the signatures of at least 15 percent of all undergraduates — about 2,700 students — by Feb. 1 before the measure can appear on the spring ballot. The measure seeks to increase CAB’s current quarterly lock-in fee of $1.15 per undergraduate by $0.85. It would also add $0.56 to the organization’s $0.77 summer lock-in fee. If passed, the lock-in increase would take effect in fall 2005. Paige Ryder, finance coordinator for CAB, said that, as of Tuesday, the volunteer group has gathered about 500 signatures.
CAB Associate Director James To said the money would be used to cover the increased costs of running the volunteer center, including funding for the salaries of office workers and staff, as well as basic administrative costs.
“It costs [money] to operate the center for projects,” To said. “All funding comes from lock-in fees and a little from registration fees. The volunteer center is student-run, student-funded. In the past, we had co-sponsored projects, but due to inflation and various UCSB fees, that’s all stopped.”
If CAB can garner the needed signatures to place the proposed increase on the ballot, it would still require 50 percent of voters plus one to vote “yes” before the initiative passes. The organization has proposed similar increases to its lock-in fee in previous years, but the initiative failed each time by gradually smaller margins. However, those previous attempts by CAB to raise its lock-in fee were run on A.S.’ ballot, which requires two-thirds voter approval.
While campuswide initiatives require a lower student approval rate to pass, placing the initiative on the ballot can be more difficult because of the required petition process. Getting a new lock-in fee or an increase to a current lock-in fee onto the A.S. ballot only requires two-thirds approval by members of A.S. Legislative Council.
CAB. chair Janice Nicol, a fourth-year art studio and comparative literature major, said the volunteer organization is trying to place the initiative on the campuswide ballot because it had come very close to gaining two-thirds voter approval in previous A.S. elections. Many students who supported the measure were frustrated by its narrow margin of failure.
“If this doesn’t work, we’ll try with another A.S. election next year…” Nicol said. “It would be illogical for us not to do everything in our power, especially if there is a better chance that the initiative could pass.”
CAB’s 2004-05 budget of about $63,000 is almost exclusively dependent on revenue generated by its current lock-in fee. According to the organization’s 2004-05 request for A.S. funds, almost $14,000 is spent on staff salaries, and about $16,000 is used to help fund special projects. Such projects include Hunger Homelessness, volunteering at Friendship Manor retirement home in Isla Vista and Best Buddies, a friendship-establishing program that pairs developmentally disabled people with college students.
“We’re starting to really suffer with the projects,” said Christina Leets, CAB. vice chair and a junior art history and psychology major. “If you’re in a group and you need community service, we’ll help you, whether you need service or publicity.”
Ali Sprott, a senior political science major and former CAB chair, who still volunteers with the organization, said the group desperately needs the increased lock-in fee.
“I like to think of the lock-in as a students donation to the community,” Sprott said “It’s a small amount considering how much comes out of it.”
— Jason La contributed to this report