Although no legislation was brought to the table at last night’s Associated Students Legislative Council meeting, two rounds of debate certainly were.
The council spent the majority of yesterday’s two-hour meeting discussing Monday’s A.S. Finance Board allocations, as well as this week’s hunger strike by about a dozen UCSB students to pressure the UC Regents into severing ties with the UC-managed nuclear research laboratories.
In addition, the council allocated with consent $7,074.25 from Finance Board unallocated funds to the A.S. Student Commission on Racial Equality for its Facing Race concert. The group miscalculated its costs in the budget it presented to Finance Board on Monday, a representative said, and needed additional support to pull the event off.
Discussion on another Finance Board item, however, was not as simple. Following heated debate, members eventually voted to maintain Finance Board’s funding allocation for the Black Pioneers Renaissance Organization’s annual Women of Color Appreciation ceremony. The event, deemed too exclusive by some council members due to its proposed limitation on male attendees, was allocated $5,025 by A.S. Finance Board this Monday with a stipulation to search for a larger venue to accommodate more students.
While Finance Board is responsible for funding student groups with unallocated A.S. funds, Leg Council maintains the right to overrule any decision, a power it rarely uses.
Finance Board Chair Nick Szamet spoke before the council last night, saying that the allocation to the BPRO breached the board’s policies and procedures and thus the event should not receive funding. On Monday, the board voted to approve the funding with 5 in favor, 2 against and 2 abstaining.
The group’s event is currently scheduled to take place aboard a small vessel in Santa Barbara Harbor, and due to space restraints, only 15 males associated with the group were invited. According to Finance Board policies, all events funded by the board must be open to the entire student community.
“I think everyone on the board agrees philosophically that this is a positive event,” Szamet said. “But it does go against policies and procedures. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault it is being exclusionary, but it does break the rules. Why have the rules if you’re not going to respect them?”
Leg Council proxy and Finance Board member Corey Huber highlighted the requirement for every Finance Board funded event to be available for any student to attend.
“Events have to be open to all students because all undergrads pay into it,” Huber said.
However, several members said representing the student body – not the rules – is the priority.
“Represent people, not the rules. Fuck the rules,” Off-Campus Rep Jeronimo Saldana said. “I say we pass it and deal with the rules later.”
Meanwhile, Off-Campus Rep Deirdre Mathis said she would resign if the council voted against funding the event.
“I have to deal with racist bullshit everyday of my life,” Mathis said. “Can I have one day of fucking peace? If this doesn’t pass I’m sending in my resignation right now.”
After voting to strike the requirement for BPRO to find a larger venue, the council passed the minutes and thus approved the event’s funding.
The council also discussed the hunger strike begun today by several UCSB students, as well as additional students throughout the UC system. Saldana asked for the council to give its verbal support to those involved.
External Vice-President of Local Affairs Joel Rodriguez-Flores, meanwhile, said he felt the timing and nature of the action was wrong.
“There is a Regents meeting coming up, but the thing they’re trying to get discussed isn’t even on the agenda,” Rodriguez said. “This is a really bad tactic.”
Additionally, several members voiced concerns about the health of those striking and said they would be uncomfortable supporting unsafe action.
“This seems like a dangerous subject to hunger strike on,” Off-Campus Rep Samantha Nevels said. “To actually sever ties would take a really long time and I don’t think they could survive the process.”
The council voted to end discussion on the hunger strike – and offer no verbal support to the protestors – with 10 in favor, 8 against and 2 abstaining.