Why is the SURF fee on the ballot?

Because this campus needs a Preventative Wellness Center.

Because this campus needs more CLAS rooms.

Because this campus needs a bigger food bank to address hunger.

Because this campus needs a permanent Veteran’s and Transfer Resource Center.

Because this campus needs space for student groups to meet for free.

Because this campus needs space for sustainability activism.

Because this campus needs additional 24-hour study space.

Because this campus needs additional space for Counseling and Psychological Services.

SURF began because a wide variety of students and organizations on campus had various unmet needs, it was the combination and magnitude of these needs that put student leadership into action to address them permanently and adequately. After hearing the diverse needs on campus, working them into a proposal to revitalize the UCen was the most cost-effective mechanism to meet the needs of underserved students.

SURF has been designed with student input gathered since 2012, with the bulk of the work carried out in Summer and Fall Quarter, 2013, by Associated Students through a partnership with Student Affairs and the UCen.

A 2012 survey shows 81.6 percent of students would use a new 24-hour study space (33.3 percent said they would definitely utilize such a space). SURF will provide this and cater it directly to the vision of students.

That same study indicates support for a wellness center (also a main feature of SURF). Preventative wellness is becoming an increasingly important and urgent need. Students’ lives and academic experiences are negatively affected by a lack of spaces that promote wellness.

Similarly, emerging student populations on campus (such as student veterans, former foster youth students, transfer students, etc.) require specialized resources. SURF will also address this void on campus by providing resources for emerging student communities that are currently underserved.

Finally, SURF will also provide permanent and sustainable space for programs and services that students have already indicated are needed on campus such as CLAS, the A.S. Food Bank, the Environmental Affairs Board, the A.S. Bike Shop, etc., as well as more space for students and student groups to meet.

So now where does the money go? As for the $20.51 portion, it goes mainly toward the planning process of designing the remodeled UCen. A small portion goes toward current operating costs of the UCen to bring some new programs/services (voted for and created by students) immediately.

The bulk of the $64.41 fee starting in Fall 2018 will provide for the development and operation/maintenance of a space that will serve the aforementioned functions. The operating funds are important because they will reduce reliance of the UCen on business revenue and more on student needs and priorities, essentially “buying back” the UCen.

The SURF Initiative doesn’t just give the UCen a facelift or add on a couple new services, but rather, it transforms the facility into one that puts students first. This plan sets us on a course to place the University Center directly in the hands of the students. Students for so long have expressed frustration with the UCen’s decisions; you can see it by just perusing the A.S. Candidate Statements for as long as the record goes (2004). SURF changes this by increasing our share of the budget, so that students, not revenue from sales, become the focus of the UCen budget.

SURF is critical to the well-being of future students.

Jonathan Abboud is the Associated Students President.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 21, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
 Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.