Campus Life Referendum Sets Deadline

The Campus Life Referendum Committee has chosen Feb. 2 as the deadline for any student organization or group on campus to submit funding requests for the proposed Campus Life Referendum.

Commissioned last May by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph Watson, the Campus Life Referendum Committee was created in the hopes of meeting the needs of the campus in terms of facilities and programming.

According to A.S. Council President Doc Khaleghi, who is also co-chair of the committee, the intent is to have one referendum that would benefit all of UCSD at once.

“”We assembled about 20 student leaders to form a committee from various organizations over UCSD,”” Khaleghi said. “”The goal was to decide on what the specific needs of the campus were and then from there to put a referendum on the ballot for the students to vote and decide on.””

Khaleghi went on to express his belief in the need for such a referendum.

“”I think looking at both the extreme needs in athletics and university centers helped us see that there’s a broader need on campus than any one group,”” Khaleghi said.

So far, talks of an increase in graduate and undergraduate quarterly fees of about $75 have been common in the committee.

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Tom Tucker said no one knows what the final number will be on a proposed student increase because it is still in debate.

Khaleghi said that although there is always a fear in raising student fees, generally speaking, the campus has been very supportive.

“”Unfortunately the state, which internally funds the UC system, doesn’t fund student affairs projects like our student unions, like athletics, like our programming, so that has to be done through assessment of student fees,”” Khaleghi said. “”But I think what you get out of the referendum will far outweigh however much per quarter you pay, whether it be around $75, give or take a few dollars.””

According to committee members, the increase in funds would provide funding for various groups on campus, including the A.S. Council, the programming council, the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Office, the Women’s Center, the Graduate Student Association, sports clubs as well as individual colleges.

Revelle Dean of Student Affairs Renee Barnett-Terry said she thought that this referendum could be the best thing that could happen for UCSD.

“”[The Campus Life Referendum] will invigorate this campus,”” she said.

Khaleghi said the money would be given automatically to the various organizations and groups on campus were it passed. Allocation of these funds would be determined by their constituencies.

In response to allegations that administrators will gain more from the referendum than students, Khaleghi disagreed. He said he believes the administration’s involvement is solely a supportive one.

“”[Myself], as A.S. president and co-chair of this referendum, I know that this referendum is meant to benefit UCSD as a whole,”” he said. “”But the money is going directly to students; students will see the most benefit from it.””

Some students have been very critical of the referendum altogether.

Opponents are concerned about the prospective and current students who may not be able to afford to attend UCSD with the assessment of another student fee.

“”We’re part of a process; student fees have been continuously increased to the point where this institution is not affordable anymore,”” said Vice President Internal of the Graduate Students Association Kris Bohling, also a GSA representative GSA on the Student Life Referendum Committee.

“”Look at the students that are here right now. We’re making democratic decisions for students who don’t get to be here because of the fees.””

Bohling went on to express his disapproval of the prevailing attitude among most students already attending UCSD.

“”I’m not just against the administration, I’m against the mindset that says, ‘Oh we can afford [an additional] $75 a quarter, it’s not that much, it’s not going to affect us much,'”” Bohling said. “”Well, it may not affect those who have the money, but it’s really going to affect those students who cannot afford it.””

According to Bohling, since UCSD is a public institution, the referendum should acknowledge more of the needs of the community as well as those of students. He questioned the necessity of raising fees, asking why the administration cannot better use fees students already pay.

“”In my belief, we have enough fees right now if they were utilized more efficiently to pay for the things we need, and we’d have enough fees with the increased student enrollment,”” Bohling said.

Josh Cooper, another GSA member, said he thought the administration had too much control over the committee and the ultimate fate of the referendum.

“”It’s obvious … they want control over what’s going on,”” Cooper said. “”They want the money to pay for their little pet projects, like 50-foot water slides and a Price Center Expansion that’s designed to give them more office space, instead of going and building their own building with their own money and letting student money go to things that affect students.””

Revelle Council Chair Jen Chang recalled the origins of the committee.

“”I think it seemed kind of intimidating at first because with the first couple meetings there were all these administrators there telling us how good this would be without us really knowing specific details,”” Chang said. “”But now that the meetings have gone on, the administration really doesn’t have a huge part in terms of making us go a certain way.””

According to Chang, administrators cannot vote, and students do have the power to shape the referendum.

Watson expressed a similar sentiment saying that although the administration has a deep interest in improving the quality of student life at UCSD, it has kept its distance.

“”One can differ on the role the administration has had in this,”” Watson said. “”But effectively, once the administration has put it on the table and put it before the committee it’s in the hands of the students.””

GSA President Lea Marie Ruiz said the GSA has not taken any official standpoint on the referendum.

“”Individual members of the GSA have their own opinions, but the council itself cannot take any official stance, because there has to be legislation that is voted on by other members of the GSA,”” she said.

Ruiz also said that an increase in student fees was a necessary evil and that alternative sources of money were difficult to find.

“”It’s a matter of practicality,”” Ruiz said. “”There’s this concern that we’re turning more and more to students for funding, but without a change in legislation on the state level, we have no other options. We’re doing the best we can with the system we have currently.””

Although in support of the referendum itself, A.S. Vice President Internal Jeff Dodge has been critical of the process by which it has been developed.

“”In the beginning there was a strong administrative stronghold on the referendum,”” Dodge said. “”Although the administration is less involved, the chairs are still very responsive to the administration and maybe not as much to the students.””

Dodge said many members of the committee find the referendum process frustrating even though they remain optimistic that in the end, the students will reap the most benefits.

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