The upcoming Associated Students election ballot will include a new lock-in fee initiative of $2.12 per quarter for undergraduate students to support the Associated Students Queer Commission, an educational and advocacy forum for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) student rights.
The Queer Commission provides funds to various LGBTQ groups both on campus and in Isla Vista. It also facilitates educational outreach initiatives regarding LGBTQ members to the general community and has helped in putting on drag shows, educational workshops and lecturing and speaking events.
Out of the $2.12 collected in the Queer Commission’s new fee, $0.53 will be for a 25 percent return-to-aid, $0.10 will be for a 7 percent administrative assessment collected on all non-capital expenditures, $0.01 will be for the 1 percent A.S. recharge fee and $1.48 will be given directly to the Queer Commission.
According to Dave Whitman, Interim Director of the Women, Gender and Sexual Equity Department (WGSE), the Queer Commission hit a “breaking point” last year when its budget was proposed to be cut to an “all-time low.” Whitman said the group decided to propose the fee initiative to tackle these budget cuts.
“This year, instead of going to Senate to ask them to not approve the cutting of their budget anymore, they decided to go straight to the entire student body for support,” Whitman said. “This way, the student body can decide collectively if a strong Queer Commission is valuable to this campus.”
Co-Chair of the Queer Commission Andrew Farkash said the purpose of the initiative is to not only gain funding to hold events but also give students a chance to attend LGBTQ national conferences for education and personal growth.
“It teaches students about a lot of different issues and gets them more involved in the activism, in the commission and in the community in general,” Farkash said.
According to Farkash, the lack of funding for the Queer Commission has negatively affected LGBTQ organizations on campus by impacting regularly held events, activities and meetings.
“We’ve had to give out less money, so it’s kind of hurt their events because the Queer Commission exists mainly to support the queer community and the different queer organizations,” Farkash said. “We’re also hurting … their ability to have regular events, to have regular meetings, to keep interest in their members, to advocate on campus and so on.”
A version of this story appeared on page 5 of Thursday, April 17, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.