Op-Ed: Zack Gianino

“Welcome to 2016-2017 ASUCSD: The 5.2 Million Dollar Question, Part 1 of 10 in an Investigative Series”

Nobody likes their dirty laundry out where everyone can see it, but when that dirty laundry is costing students hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, something is very wrong. Let’s start our trek into what the 2016-2017 Associated Students leadership doesn’t want you to know.

Every quarter we as students pay a $67.25 fee to the university marked as a “campus activity fee” that goes to things from SunGod festival to Safe Rides to Triton Dine during finals week. Now add it all up and that’s a lot of money — $5,171,256.00 to be exact. We, the associated students, elect representatives to allocate this money on our behalf. It is the duty and responsibility for these representatives to safeguard our student fees. Now, quite literally, here is the million-dollar question: What do 50 students do with $5.2 million at their disposal?

Let’s focus on a minor subset, representative of a larger endemic issue. An entity some of you may know, the Student Sustainability Collective, has been allocated $225,305.28 for the 2016-2017 academic year through a mandated referendum lock. That money is controlled independently by the SSC and does not have any oversight by any entity or administration. It can, and do, fund anything it wants, including costs that the A.S. funding guide strictly prohibits, such as airfare. Additionally, it do not need approval for it budget from our representatives in the A.S. Senate. This has led to irresponsible usage of our student fees to fund things like airplane tickets and egregious stipends ($120/week) for the members of this collective. Lack of this representative oversight has resulted in a major lapse of organizational and fiscal accountability to the students.

The Student Sustainability Collective currently displays no governing documents nor an executive budget on its web page. There exists no widespread accessibility to the SSC’s information, and therein lies some of the dirty laundry I was talking about: $64,200 — almost a third of the budget — is used for student stipends while only $28,719, roughly 13 percent, is used for student programming. That means that for every dollar of your student fees who get, 13 cents goes to you while 30 cents goes to paying themselves. To give you some perspective, if this model were applied to Walmart, the top executives and board of directors would each make a little over $8 billion a year — that’s $8,000,000,000.00. Tell me that is sustainable.

Now this is not an isolated problem. This happens across the board on the ASUCSD 2016-2017 budget with student stipends and salaries. And what are our leaders doing about this? I’ll tell you. A minority of your representatives working to rectify this situation have been blocked at every corner by an institution that prizes idealism and narcissism over pragmatism and responsibility. Acts to hold student leaders accountable for their actions have been met with hostility and intolerance from the current A.S. President and the cabinet. Implicit and explicit instructions on what to pass and how to vote have been routinely handed down to the senate from the executive — all but silencing the student voice. This should not, and cannot, be the way our mandatory student fees are distributed.

We as students must demand transparency and accountability from organizations that receive our funding, whether we support them or not. Intolerant and hegemonic structures within the Associated Students leadership have silenced our voices and ensure the continuation of this irresponsibility.

I’ll let you answer the five-million-dollar question yourself, but it is safe to say that our student leaders are not telling us everything they do with our money.

Stay tuned for part two. I’m Zack Gianino and Welcome to the 2016-2017 ASUCSD.

5 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Zack Gianino

  1. This is extremely atrocious writing. Along with the copious grammar mistakes and irregular verb/tense usage, this piece sounds like a complaint and someone rambling. The writing style is imprecise and incoherent at times. How can we take this seriously? These are very serious accusations that Zack Gianino is making and are we to simply take his word that this corruption is occurring. He offers no proof but rather fallacious claims and baseless accusations against others. While I don’t like AS myself, I would like to see some proof of this corruption before we take Zack’s claims seriously. He claims that AS members are using our student fees for large stipends and airplane tickets. Where is the evidence for this? I look forward to reading the next 9 parts of Zack’s columns against AS. Perhaps then he’ll have legitimate evidence and hopefully his writing will have improved significantly by then that it is readable and doesn’t sound like someone drunk and lackadaisical.

    1. Ivar, do not blame me for the lack of evidence that is provided I provided all evidence and more about these accusations that I have made. This was the guardians decision not t do not blame me for the lack of evidence that is provided I provided all evidence and more about these accusations that I have made. This was the guardians decision not to publish any of the evidence that I provided. I appreciate your criticism and as a student here at UCSD I would preferred to collaborate if issues bother you as well rather than attacking another fellow student. Like I said before, all of the things that I have said are factual evidence was provided to the garden on several occasions. Not to mention as I stated before this is not the last published version that I gave the Guardian this is the first version that they deliberately chose to post versus the updated one. After months and months of trying to hold these people accountable I have been dipped and dodged at every corner as I try to bring awareness for the students. Most of your lovely comment above was about how there was no evidence; Take that up with the guardian because the evidence was published on several occasions for their viewing pleasure. And as for the verbiage and grammatical errors– those were fixed. You seem to have a lot of things to say and if you like to have a conversation in person I’d be more than happy to meet with you. [email protected] let’s meet up.

  2. THE 5.2 MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
    Nobody likes their dirty laundry out where everyone can see it — but when that dirty laundry is costing students hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, something is very wrong. Let’s start our trek into what the 2016-2017 Associated Students (AS) leadership doesn’t want you to know…

    Every quarter we as students pay a $67.25 fee to the university marked as a “campus activity fee” that goes to things from Sun God Festival to Safe Rides to Triton Dine the week of finals. Now add it all up and that’s a lot of money — $5.2 million, $5,171,256.00 to be exact. AS, us, elect representatives to allocate this money on our behalf. It is the duty and responsibility for these representatives to safeguard our student fees. Now, quite literally, here is the million-dollar question: What do 50 students do with $5.2 million at their disposal?

    Let’s focus on a minor subset, representative of a larger endemic issue. An entity some of you may know, the Student Sustainability Collective (SSC) has been allocated $225,305.28 for the 2016-2017 academic year through a referendum-mandated lock-in. That money is controlled independently by the SSC and does not have any oversight by any entity or administration because of the referendum lock-in and the organizational chaos. They can, and do, fund anything they want; things the AS funding guide strictly prohibits, such as airfare. Additionally, they do not need approval for their budget from our representatives, the AS Senate. This has led to irresponsible usage of our student fees to fund things like airplane tickets and egregious stipends ($120/week) for the directors of this collective. This includes multiple directors for finance, peer education, and fossil fuel divestment. For context, AS’ own Vice President of Finance, who manages a budget over 20 times larger gets paid less. Furthermore, the Associated Vice Presidents, who direct events and programs like Safe Rides and the Triton Food Pantry, get paid $100 per week. Lack of this representative oversight has resulted in a major lapse of organizational and fiscal accountability to the students.

    The SSC currently displays no governing documents nor an executive budget on their web page. And unless you are part of a select circle, you would not have easy access to this information. Now here’s some of the dirty laundry I was talking about: $64,200 of that money, almost a third of their budget, is used for student stipends while only $28,719, roughly 13 percent, is used for external operation. That means that for every dollar of your student fees they get 13 cents goes directly to us while 30 cents goes to paying themselves. To give you some perspective, if this model were applied to Walmart, the top executives and board of directors would each make a little over eight billion dollars a year — that’s $8,000,000,000.00. Tell me that is sustainable.

    Now, this is not an isolated problem. This happens across the board on the ASUCSD 2016-2017 budget with student stipends and salaries. And what are our leaders doing about this? I’ll tell you. A minority of your representatives working to rectify this situation have been blocked at every corner by an institution that prizes idealism and narcissism over pragmatism and responsibility. Acts to hold student leaders accountable such as withholding the appointment of the SSC directors until their organizational problems had been rectified have been met with hostility and intolerance from the current AS President and the cabinet. Implicit and explicit instructions, such as emails from the President directing the Senate to vote a certain way have been routinely handed down to the senate from the executive, all but silencing the student voice.

    This overreaching abuse of power undermines and violates the democratic process. Not allowing thoughtful debate as a collective, which we were elected to do, diminishes the student’s body’s power while handing over the decision making to a small group (4) of executives. Attempting to override open public debate tarnishes the very responsibility each elected student must uphold. The elected AS President told student senators, “The plan thus far is that we will approve the 18 director positions as is,” and “My hope is that we approve these 18 appointment,” and “We’ve identified… concepts that we plan to work on,” (where “we” is not the AS Senators, but Exec.). There was then an attempt to isolate people that disagree with the decision stating, “If anyone has any concerns […] I would like to have these discussions prior to our Wednesday meeting.”

    This should not, and cannot, be the way our mandatory student fees are distributed. We as students must demand transparency and accountability from these organizations that receive our funding, whether we support them or not. Intolerant and hegemonic structures within AS leadership have silenced our voices and ensure the continuation of this irresponsibility.

    I’ll let you answer the five-million-dollar question yourself, but it is safe to say that our student leaders are not telling us everything they do with our money. Welcome to ASUCSD.

    1. Oh Jeff? How so? Let me first off start by saying that this was not the updated version that was submitted. Second, How is holding the irresponsibility of the student governments misspending losing journalistic Integrity? If the guardian is a voice for the students, how is this not doing their job? I am curious to hear your point of view, genuinely.

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