The Associated Students Senate approved a bill last month that will set up a fund for student projects in the realm of science and technology.
The bill titled Science, Technology, Aerospace and Research Kapital (STARK) sets aside $10,000 for science and engineering student organizations working on large-scale projects that would not be covered by their own fundraising efforts. Groups will compete for the funds, with the two best project proposals receiving $5,000 each.
A.S. Finance Board Chair Raul Martinez, the architect behind the legislation, said the federal failure to invest in innovation initially inspired him to propose the fund.
“NASA has no funding now. The United States is ranked 22nd in science and technology. That’s appalling,” Martinez said. “We can’t compete with countries on the rise like India and China when it comes to this kind of stuff.”
According to Martinez, having student government support the sciences would help rekindle the innovative spirit of the United States.
“$10,000 isn’t a lot, but it helps a bit,” Martinez said. “It helps contribute to people wanting to do something outside of the classroom and hopefully be like, ‘Maybe I can work on this for the federal government in the future.’”
Jonathan Abboud, president of UCSB’s Residence Halls Association, added that STARK allows A.S. to support and reach out to science and engineering students.
“Students who work in the science-technology field on campus are really underserved by A.S.,” Abboud said. “A.S. does a lot to benefit certain groups, but one of the groups that A.S. hasn’t aided to — as much as other groups — is the science population.”
Martinez said the lack of dissent the bill faced from the Senate signified the widespread acknowledgement of its importance.
“We don’t see a lot of engineers and we don’t see a lot of hard-science people in A.S.,” Martinez said. “A.S. has no form of grants that we give to projects. It’s time that we do that. It’s time that we reach out to those people who want to do hands-on projects … There was no opposition [from the Senate]; I think that shows that people understand the issues at hand.”
Second-year economics and accounting major Angela Lau, who serves as an off-campus Senator for A.S. and officially proposed the bill to the Senate, pointed out the advantages that STARK could have for students attempting to pad their résumés.
“I really think that this is a great direction that A.S. is going into, because … we’re also helping career paths,” Lau said. “Really when it comes down to it, your résumé is kind of everything.”
Lau said she hopes to eventually expand the idea to other fields of study, making student government funds more accessible for academic pursuits.
“It would really help to expand it to even writing groups — people who are English or art majors who want to publish art magazines and writing magazines,” Lau said. “It’s a great avenue to have money specifically for students to do things that will benefit their future.”
However, Abboud said he feels that it is most important to address science-focused organizations, since these groups are most underrepresented in A.S.
“We kind of already do fund different things … I don’t think that we should create another fund specifically for them,” Abboud said. “It’s better to have a specific one for science and technology, because they don’t feel right now that A.S. helps and caters to them … It’s good to put that institutional backing to the science groups.”
Raul Martinez plans to contact every Office of Student Life organization that is science-related within the next week as the beginning steps of the $5,000 competition. The bill will go into effect next year.