Wow! There have been so many accusations and concerns about the Students’ Initiative that I thought I’d help clear some things up.
First off, what exactly is the Students’ Initiative? Well, it’s a campuswide effort to increase the student services we have and to ensure the programs we want for the future. When the other Associated Students execs and I sat down last quarter to evaluate our financial crisis, we decided that we would not only look to repair and grow A.S., but the entire the UCSB community. We sent inquiries out to departments across campus that offer student services as well as A.S. entities and asked them to create a needs assessment. With these compiled assessments, we were given a realistic view into the actual needs of the community. All of these can be viewed on the A.S. website at www.as.ucsb.edu/election. However, due to reduced budgets and minimal resources, many of the groups felt that they would be unable to run a lock-in by themselves, which brings me to the next concern.
Why bundle 29 entities into one larger initiative? My simple response to that is as students, we should care about the entire UCSB community. By combining all these entities, we are taking responsibility in ensuring that all student services in need can be equally supported. Even if there are services on the initiative that you do not personally use, you are helping to make those resources available to the students who do.
Where is the accountability for the funds? The beauty of student departments and organizations is that the students control the funds. These entities all have internal structures with boards that are predominately or entirely led by students. In addition, every other year the student body has the option to “not reaffirm” any of the 29 entities individually if they deem necessary. A full breakdown of the initiative and its allocation is also available on the A.S. website.
What is a five-year moratorium and how does it affect you? The moratorium is essentially a pact with the students that says every entity listed on the Initiative will not be able to ask for an additional lock-in fee for the next five years. This was done not to hurt the organizations that are not involved, but rather to protect you, the student, from having to pay more at a later time. A great thing about the Students’ Initiative is that it will put much-needed funds back into Finance Board, which used to be the main funding source for all campus groups and organizations. Any group not part of the initiative – and even those that are – will have the ability to go to Finance Board and request any necessary funds. Also, any group not listed on the Students’ Initiative can still go out for a lock-in, if needed.
Why is this on the fall ballot as opposed to spring? First off, there is nothing “sneaky, underhanded, [or] downright dirty” about this Initiative (“Five Former Members of A.S. Speak Out,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 17, 2006). We are in no way trying to pull a fast one on the students. Even the people who are so adamantly opposing this Initiative agree that the need is there. Associated Students, especially, is on the verge of major decline if there is no additional funding soon. Waiting until spring would mean that two quarters and a summer would go by before funds could be collected and restoration and growth could commence. By passing the Initiative this quarter, students will see an increase in services right away and will not have to wait an entire year to see results.
If I’m on financial aid, will I still have to pay the fee? As mandated by the University of California Regents, all new fees must include return-to-aid. Students who receive financial aid will be covered because return-to-aid ensures that they will not be impacted by fee increases.
The Students’ Initiative is supported by student groups, organizations and departments all across campus. By voting “Yes” you show that you care about the UCSB community as a whole and take responsibility to ensure it will thrive for you and for students to come. If you need any more information regarding the Initiative, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the A.S. website, or attend the open forum at 4 p.m. tomorrow in the MultiCultural Center Theater.
Jared Goldschen is a fourth-year business economics major and current A.S. president.