Associated Students and several other campus organizations have apparently adopted the Thomas Tussler idiom, “A fool and his money are soon parted” – and apparently we are the fools.

The proposed Students’ Initiative distastefully breaks UCSB’s proud tradition of giving students the power to choose which individual organizations receive money – a privilege that is not shared by many of our UC brethren. Instead, the initiative takes away fiscal accountability by bundling the needs of 29 organizations into a $100 lock-in fee increase so that students are forced to make an all-or-nothing decision regarding their student services.

Furthermore, it appears that A.S. has attempted to disguise the level of its own involvement in this initiative. Exactly 17 of the 29 organizations involved are A.S. entities, yet the A.S. prefix is curiously absent before these groups’ names on the initiative fliers.

Despite the harsh rhetoric in this editorial, the Nexus believes A.S. deserves at least some sort of raise because the organization, which has not received a lock-in fee increase since 1974, has proven itself worthy and in need of some extra cash. A.S. has done some tremendous things in the past and it is comprised of some of the hardest working students on campus. Their own lack of funding is hardly their fault.

However, we find the Students’ Initiative to be seriously inefficient and unethical because the organizations involved act frivolously with students’ money. On Monday, representatives from the 29 groups met in the MultiCultural Center to pledge support for the initiative and continue negotiating the cost of the fee increase. Instead, a series of tedious arguments ensued that day, none of which took into consideration how much money they actually needed, but whether or not they should present a round figure of $100 or $100.14 to make the cost look more calculated.

The negotiated amount includes excessive increases in funding for self-sufficient items such as the Child Care Grant fee, which CCG organizer De Acker said was not in need of extra monies (“Campus Groups Seek Increase in Student Funding,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 10, 2006.) As another example, we are unclear as to why Recreational Sports really needs an $11 lock-in fee increase, as it already receives $7 per student per quarter, or if Student Health truly needs a $9 increase added to their $19 lock-in fee.

The Students’ Initiative is incredibly disingenuous. It is one of the highest increases in UCSB history and insidiously disproportionate to the amount these groups normally request. Remember that the highest lock-in fee increase proposed last year was a mere $4.50 fee for Program Board. This initiative is highly reprehensible. It uses congressional pork-barreling tactics to bundle these 29 organizations’ requests into one large fee, and it retracts our privilege to individually choose how much each organization receives. As such, this sets what may be one of the most damaging precedents in our school’s history.

Lastly, this costly initiative is haphazardly rushed in order to appear on a fall ballot instead of the normal spring ballot. For the Students’ Initiative to pass, the groups need only 20 percent of the undergraduate class to come to the polls and only 50 percent plus one of those individuals to vote yes – roughly 1,800 students. What is even scarier is that these groups do not really need our votes to make this work. The sheer number of people involved in the participating groups alone, plus their easily convinced friends, will likely be enough to make the initiative succeed, or as A.S. External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Bill Shiebler so smugly put it, “We’ve talked to enough students already to make this pass.”

In closing, the Nexus believes student lock-in fees should be treated with greater care, regardless of any organizations’ financial troubles. We hope UCSB students will take this matter seriously. Log on to GOLD from Oct. 23 to 26 and vote. Let these groups know what you really think. Prove to them that you are not the fools they believe you to be.