The Associated Students (A.S.) Senate met Wednesday night in the Flying A Room of the UCen to discuss the University of California Student Association’s (UCSA) Student Advocacy, Governance & Engagement (S.A.G.E.) fee proposal.
S.A.G.E. would instate $6 fee at every UC campus to support UCSA’s state-level advocacy efforts, but individual students would be able to opt out of the fee. Currently, UCSB students pay $9 to support UCSA, while other UC campuses pay less or none at all, with UC Davis paying $0 but holding equal membership.
Mohsin Mirza, the UCSA Undergraduate Committee Chair, A.S. External Vice President of Statewide Affairs and a fourth-year black studies and sociology double-major, and UCSA Communications Director Anaïs LaVoie addressed Senate in public forum, speaking in favor of the S.A.G.E. proposal.
LaVoie said she hopes the S.A.G.E. proposal will be brought to the UC Board of Regents at the end of January.
“We’re still working with president Napolitano on the language of the proposal, but she has expressed her support and we’re regularly meeting with legal council,” LaVoie said.
According to Mirza, most campuses pay $1.30 per student, while UCSB pays $9.
“I, as much as anybody, would like to see the playing field leveled,” Mirza said.
How is it my fault that my campus must pay as much as they should while every other campus is like, ‘we don’t want to pay, UCSB is paying, they’re paying our salaries, they’re paying everything, continue though we’ll get the benefits’ – United States Student Association member Zaher Akl
LaVoie said UCSA allows UC students to “collectively organize” to represent student interests.
“UCSA really does do important work for students across the system,” LaVoie said. “We’ve had 50 years of work on student advocacy that [shows] we belong as a recognized student voice across the UC system.”
United States Student Association member and third-year anthropology and sociology double major Zaher Akl said many students do not realize how much more UCSB contributes to UCSA than other UC campuses.
“Many were shocked to know how much our specific campus pays towards UCSA,” Akl said. “We pay $10,000 a year into UCSA – we pay $150,000 every year to UCSA. Why is that?”
Akl said amount UCSB students pay to UCSA compared to others is “shady.”
“How is it my fault that my campus must pay as much as they should while every other campus is like, ‘we don’t want to pay, UCSB is paying, they’re paying our salaries, they’re paying everything, continue though we’ll get the benefits,’” Akl said.
According to Akl, UC Office of the President (UCOP) would have the power to control S.A.G.E., making it a less effective use of UCSB students’ money than campus-based fees.
“UCOP controls all the fees. S.A.G.E. takes power away from the Senate,” Akl said. “S.A.G.E. takes power away from the school and S.A.G.E. decentralizes the power that students have.”
Akl said it would be better for UCSB students to pay into locally focused initiatives.
“These funds that we’ve paid over these years – don’t you think this could’ve went towards something productive in Isla Vista?” Akl said. “What are we getting out of UCSA?”
On-campus senator and second-year political science major José Magaña said UCSA began paying its executives this year, and, according to Magaña, UCSB students’ fees effectively pay the president’s salary.
“If you look at how much the other UCs are paying into it, it is clear that we’re basically paying for his budget, and that really sucks,” Magaña said.
Mirza said S.A.G.E. would help stabilize UCSA’s unpredictable budget, which makes it difficult to retain important staff members and plan year-to-year.
“UCSA’s budget is at the whim of student leaders, who change every year,” Mirza said. “Although the UCSA issues don’t change each year, there is unpredictability with the budget cycle.”