The Associated Students Finance Board meeting passed relatively quickly Monday afternoon, despite the funding of 15 student groups in comparison to last week’s five.
The board distributed $5,470 within a two-hour period, leaving it with $3,545.05 for the remainder of the quarter. Six board members left during the meeting as they had other engagements or class to attend, making the board hurry discussion to avoid losing quorum – the minimum number of people it takes for a vote to be valid. Funding decisions would have been postponed had the board failed to meet quorum.
“It was the shortest long meeting of the year,” Finance Board Chair Aseye Allah said.
Included in the 15 groups were a few campaigning for initiatives on this spring’s ballot, specifically The Green Initiative Fund, a new A.S. Community Affairs Board lock-in fee and a fee increase for the UC Student Association. Each group received $200 out of the Campus Issues Account, a fund set aside to aid student election campaigns.
Of the $5,470 given yesterday, $4,670 was given to student groups other than the campaigners.
Advisor Aaron Jones requested the board limit the usage of funds allotted to each group, such as determining that funds be used for advertising.
“I ask the board to be specific in allocations because I am concerned about [A.S. financial] auditors,” Jones said. “It would just help.”
However, specifying the usage of each allotment initiated controversy, as board members disagreed on what constituted proper use of A.S. funds.
In discussing funds for Miles for Measles – a 5k-run/walk fundraiser put on by the UCSB Red Cross Club – board member Maressa Mendeola expressed concern over giving the money to the group for the creation of T-shirts, as the event may be cancelled or postponed on account of rain.
“The shirts are permanent and once they are made, they can’t take it back even if the event gets cancelled,” Mendeola said.
Adding to Mendeola’s concern, board members debated the wisdom of funding an event that might not occur. The UCSB Red Cross Club will decide whether to cancel the event tonight at its meeting.
Regardless of distribution, Allah said, the funds would be returned to Finance Board if the event were cancelled. While the UCSB Red Cross Club requested $988, the board granted them $500 for the event, excluding the coverage of food, passing it with seven in favor, two in opposition, and one member abstaining.
Also in debate was funding for the Black Graduation Committee (BGC), a group that requested $500 to help pay for its annual alternative graduation ceremony.
Shawna Wright, a Black Graduation Committee member, said the ceremony honors the African American community by providing them with a more intimate setting than the general graduation ceremony.
“It is the 17th year that students will have more say in their ceremony, and it is cultural as well,” Wright said.
Board members deliberated on whether funding the graduation would set a bad precedent, as other special graduation committees will probably ask for funding this year, potentially draining Finance Board funds very quickly. Traditionally, Finance Board has funded these groups.
Board member Nathan Wood said he thinks the exclusiveness of the graduation is akin to holding segregated freshmen orientations.
“I have the mindset of it being exclusive: It would be like holding different orientations for different new UCSB students,” Wood said. “What if a Caucasian [graduation] group came here [to the board meeting]? Are we going to fund every group that represents a community?”
In rebuttal, Mendeola argued that contrasting the Black Graduation with a Caucasian graduation is a faulty comparison.
“It’s not fair to compare it to a Caucasian graduation because the main graduation is Caucasian,” Mendeola said.
Board member Torrin Brooks said the amount the board granted the Committee would set the stage for future funding of similar groups.
“Later, we will have less money and we have to be careful because this will be the precedent for other groups,” Brooks said.
However, Board Member Jake Thorn said fully funding the Committee would not create a precedent because of how the board allocates funding.
“It isn’t a precedent because the BGC is here now and we work on a first come, first serve basis,” Thorn said.
Just before adjourning the meeting, the board granted BGC $350, with six in favor and three abstaining. The committed originally requested $500.