Associated Students Legislative Council assembled last night for the final time this quarter, discussing topics ranging from finances to student health.
During the seven-and-a-half hour meeting, the council approved almost $40,000 in quarterly salaries for over 130 A.S. members. The council also passed a bill urging the administration to respond to student mental heath issues.
A.S. Commission on Student Well Being co-commissioner Marianne Clark said students are often bombarded by heavy course loads, causing overwhelming levels of stress.
“There have been an inordinate amount of attempted suicides the past two quarters,” Clark said. “And I don’t know if you know, but last night we lost a student. The resolution is talking about MCP and the stress it puts on students. They’re [pressured] to keep up the coursework that is sometimes a little too much.”
Off-campus Representative Steven Wolfson said the administration needs to recognize the severity of the matter and work to help the students suffering from mental health issues.
“This is one of the biggest issues we’ll address all year,” Wolfson said. “This bill demands administration at least pay attention to the issue.”
Meanwhile, Alpha Tau Omega and Santa Barbara Hillel both approached the council to overturn Finance Board decisions made Monday night. Finance Board declined the funding requests of both organizations.
Hillel appealed for $4,304 to fund an alternative break to Texas to help the community recover from the destruction brought on by Hurricane Ike.
Trip leader Oren Ofer, a third-year biopsychology major, said his organization was not biased, as the board claimed, because the application was open to the general student population.
However, Off-campus Representative Darshan Grover said the board didn’t doubt the legitimacy of the cause, but the criteria used for the selection process.
“I don’t think anybody here… would question the importance of the event,” Grover said. “When we hear something like students are chosen to go based on religious preference or self-identification, and there’s a limited application pool, we have to wonder whether it was open to everyone.”
ATO also asked the council to turn over Finance Board’s decision against providing them an additional $5,000 in funding for their All-Sorority Volleyball Tournament. The fraternity already received $10,700 last week.
ASVT Committee Chair Darin Bernstein, a third-year environmental studies major, said if the organization doesn’t receive more financial support, less money will be donated to their kidney cancer foundation.
“This is one of the largest events on campus,” Bernstein said. “It’s totally inclusive. The only reason that the fraternity’s attached to the name is because we have the resources to fund the event and we really enjoy it. … If we do not receive these funds, it means that we will actively have to go out and ask for more sponsorship and put up the money ourselves from our organization. … The charity would also obviously suffer.”
The council voted against even considering allocating the two organizations any money.
Additionally, the council discussed possible responses to the non-state-funded administrative support tax on entities supported by student referenda.
A.S. President J.P. Primeau said instead of taxing campus-based student fees, student registration fees should be increased instead. In addition to education fees, students also pay registration fees to cover administrative and support services.
“We could continually fight to protect [student services] from cuts, but that still doesn’t change the fact that that registration fees to support our service like the Rec Cen have not increased since 1980, regardless of inflation,” Primeau said. “There needs to be an increase in the registration fees.”
Council member Narain Kumar, on the other hand, said he prefers increasing student lock-in fees as opposed to their registration fees.
“The process is a lot more involved,” Kumar said. “The students make the decision.”
Primeau, however, said students should not be obliged to help fund student services that ought to fall under the administration’s jurisdiction.
“These services should be core funded,” Primeau said. “The registration fee was the original mechanism to fund these services. … Students shouldn’t have to constantly vote for student mental health services when it’s under funded. … I don’t think each campus and every student on every campus should have to fight for these issues.”