UCSB, how great was your high school student government? Every year in the bloom of springtime they come and pester you for your votes while running on the “free soda Friday” platform. They are hot girls or douchey jocks trying to get your vote for their stupid popularity contest. All of this is just to add an extra line to their resume stating that they served their community, proving they’re selfless hard workers. Once elected, they definitely work on the real issues, things like the homecoming football game and dance, candygrams and other random pointless things to keep us entertained.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but do you want to know what it really was to most of us? A joke. We, the average students, didn’t/couldn’t have any impact on it and those in the government really didn’t do anything truly substantive in the end.

But UCSB Associated Students is not like your high school Associated Student Body. Our A.S. and the people in it are different. Our elected representatives try to run on real platforms, such as fighting the Minimum Cumulative Progress, creating more parking for students and campus sustainability. They are not only the hot girls and jocks, but students who truly want to serve their community.

Another difference is that A.S. has real sums of money to accomplish things with.

“No, A.S. only gives a TON of money to Greeks.” Well, they do, but they also give a lot of money to other groups. If you wanted to form a group with a true purpose and asked for money, you probably would get most of how much you asked for.

This is how it works: You (or your parents) pay fees to the University through your BARC account. Then those fees go to A.S. and into A.S. boards and committees. Those fees meet their end in services for students and funding for student groups.

“Ok, so A.S. eats up a lot of my money. What do I get in return?”

All the money you put toward A.S. comes right back to you in the form of services, projects, campus events, etc. Thanks to A.S., we have coffee in the library during finals and recycling on campus (see those cool recycling tricycles?), paved bike paths and funding for various student groups.

Those are the visible things you might see A.S. doing, but we do so much more behind the scenes. A.S. is constantly fighting for you by meeting with administrators and local officials to negotiate solutions on a range of issues, from additional taxes on your student fees, party ordinances in I.V. or Halloween regulations.

A.S. is composed of everyday students like you who are interested in a range of topics and — most likely — want to do something about them. There are some students who really care about the Earth and join Environmental Affairs Board, where they’ll try to make our campus more environmentally sustainable. On the other hand, students might care about the stock market and will be investing A.S. surplus dollars into the stock market through the Investments Advisory Committee. There are all sorts of students who have different goals and A.S. is the place to actualize those goals from community service to being a judge for Judicial Council.

I’m not trying to convince you to join A.S., but my main goal is to give you an idea of what it is we do. If you have any questions, want to get involved or just bitch about A.S., please drop by the A.S. main office in the MultiCultural Center building adjacent to the UCen.