Student Life Committee Faces Criticism

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph Watson commissioned a committee last May to discuss a proposed $75 per quarter fee referendum intended to improve student life at UCSD.

At last Monday’s meeting of the Student Life Fee Referendum, dozens of students criticized the fact that there was no established procedure for voting, that the chairs of the committee were voting members and not selected by the committee members, and that the specifics of the fee referendum had already been planned out by the administration.

Even though the committee did not get to its agenda items at the meeting, Watson and students are confident the committee will go forward in a productive manner.

The proposed fee increase, which is scheduled to be put to a vote during winter quarter 2001, would increase graduate and undergraduate quarterly fees by $75 per student.

The fee increase would fund an expansion of the Price Center, a commuter center, offices for student organizations, support for Division II athletics, lounge furnishings and computers at each college, additional seating at the Grove Cafe, meeting rooms for student organizations and other campus improvements.

In addition, the fee increase would provide additional funding for the A.S. Council, the Graduate Student Association, the Women’s Center, sports clubs, university events, the programming council, individual colleges, the Cross Cultural Center, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Office.

According to the committee’s mission statement, its purpose is to solicit input, evaluate options and advise Watson on a referendum to improve campus life; to review, endorse and recommend to Watson the election logistics, finances and conditions of the referendum; and to communicate with students, answer questions and serve as advocates for the approval of the referendum.

At last Monday’s meeting, when students called into question the logistics of the committee structure, Watson said he would remove Tom Tucker, assistant vice chancellor of student affairs, as one of the three co-chairs of the committee, because some members of the committee felt an administrator should not be co-chairing a student committee.

Students also expressed concern over how the student co-chairs were chosen.

“”Are we going to address the issue that the chairs were not elected?”” Marshall Student Council Chair Emiko Burchill. “”I don’t devalue that they’re doing an excellent job except that I feel uncomfortable having the chair of the committee not be elected.””

“”No,”” Watson responded. “”This is my committee. I’m trying to be responsive.

“”I’m also deeply concerned because the main objective here is to meet the needs of the students,”” Watson added. “”How we get to a conclusion here, I think is critical. I tried to set up a setting in which students would play a major role. I think this is that setting.””

At the end of the meeting, the committee appointed a student consultant, since all of the consultants initially on the committee were administrators. The committee also appointed a historian to take minutes at the meetings, because many students said the minutes of the first meeting were not comprehensive enough.

A.S. Senate Chair Shana Takur, who attended the meeting, said she was pleased with what the students accomplished.

“”The students got back some power,”” she said. “”This is the first time I’ve seen student empowerment since I’ve been here.””

Takur said she was still concerned with some aspects of the committee makeup, including the fact that there is only one representative from a cultural organization, while the committee has three sports-related representatives and two representatives from Greek organizations.

Takur also said, however, that she remained optimistic that the committee could move forward and be productive.

Watson agreed.

“”I’m very optimistic,”” he said. “”I think this is one thing that is very critical to the campus.

“”I think we’re both after the same thing, what is best for our current and future students … I don’t see how as a campus we can anticipate a growth of 40 percent in the student body and not start planning for it now.””

The committee, which has met twice so far, will hold its next meeting Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. in the University Centers, room 111A.

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