Student Life Referendum Meets Criticism

The proposed Campus Life Referendum was the subject of heated debate at a committee meeting Monday in the Chancellor’s Complex. With the Feb. 2 deadline for campus organizations’ funding requests rapidly approaching, the committee opened the floor to public input on the referendum.

While many support the Campus Life Referendum, which would potentially increase graduate and undergraduate quarterly fees by as much as $75, the bill collided head-on with fervent criticism and opposition at Monday’s meeting.

Among the topics of debate was the referendum’s goal of providing funding for the expansion of the Muir College Stuart Commons. Some in attendance, such as Mark Stickel of the Revelle College Council, see the item as inappropriate on a bill that, according to A.S. Council President Doc Khaleghi, is intended to benefit all of UCSD at once.

“”I don’t see how a college-specific item should be on the table. It’s not campus-wide,”” Stickel said. “”How do I convince a Revelle student to vote for the referendum when this item affects only Muir students?””

In response, Muir College Council Chair Cristina Villegas defended the item, pointing out that each of the university’s five colleges had the opportunity to submit a proposal for individual college expansion, and that Muir was the only college to have made a submission.

“”At least one-fifth of the students will benefit from this item,”” Villegas said. “”[The Stuart Commons] is a huge part of Muir life.””

According to Villegas, more than 30 student organizations use the area for their various meetings and events.

Pat Danylyshyn-Adams, resident dean of Muir campus, also supported the item’s inclusion in the referendum.

“”[Non-Muir] students may also use the Commons,”” she said. “”College affiliation is not required for that.””

Danylyshyn-Adams likened the dispute to the fact that, although not every UCSD student is an intercollegiate athlete, the referendum will most likely include funding aimed at making UCSD seem more like a Division II university.

Despite his reservations concerning the Stuart Commons, Stickel is an optimistic supporter of the referendum.

“”Things are coming along,”” he said.

While many support further revision of the referendum before it is voted upon, more adamant opponents of the proposal would like to see it scrapped altogether. Carolyn Gan of the UCSD Student Co-ops, along with other co-op representatives, attacked the referendum at the meeting, calling it poorly framed and in violation of certain national, state and UC-wide regulations.

Gan objected on behalf of the co-ops to the Campus Life Referendum Committee’s failure to follow proper procedure for initializing a student referendum. She reasoned that the referendum could not be considered to be entirely student run, as it was intended to be, since university administrators had hand-picked various committee members.

She also said that a year 2000 Supreme Court ruling requires that all student fees must go toward education, leaving to question the referendum’s intent to further expand many of the on-campus university centers.

Gan said the co-ops are calling for an end to the committee’s “”unnecessary inertia”” in its efforts to pass the referendum. “”We should take the time to do it right.”” she said. “”Had we used a student initiative [in creating] the referendum, we would have avoided many problems.””

Gan said the co-ops are pushing for the dissolution of the committee.

Probably the point of highest contention at Monday’s meeting was the discussion of the recent removal of Graduate Students Association Vice President of Academic Affairs Kris Bohling as well another member from the referendum committee.

GSA President Lea Ruiz made the decision to withdraw the two as voting members on the committee, taking their places herself.

“”I made an executive decision to remove Kris and Josh from the committee,”” Ruiz said. “”[The GSA] felt like it wasn’t getting enough information from the committee. With the kinds of decisions being made, we need to be a presence.””

Bohling, an outspoken opponent of the referendum, spoke to the committee on Monday.

“”I am not in agreement personally with the decision made by the GSA president,”” he said. “”The decision is in violation of GSA bylaws … I believe it to be part of a larger administrative attack on those opposed to the referendum.””

Bohling spoke cordially about Ruiz, noting that he considered her a friend.

Bohling requested of the committee that he be allowed to stay on as a voting member until the situation is properly resolved.

Ruiz, who has decided to abstain from all committee votes, believes the issue is something to be resolved within the GSA.

“”This is something that is not to be discussed at these meetings,”” she said. “”It’s a matter of GSA reps’ responsibilities and of those responsibilities not being fulfilled.””

A motion was introduced and seconded to conduct a vote on whether the two GSA members in question should be allowed to remain as voting members of the committee. While six of the committee’s members voted unopposed in favor of the motion, 12 abstained and the motion was not passed.

“”The vote we took reflects the committee’s opinion that this is an internal matter to be resolved by the GSA,”” said committee co-chair Jenn DeCamp.

At the meeting’s end, Khaleghi announced that the committee would be deciding on a date for a campus-wide vote on the referendum, for which there were two options: either during A.S. Council elections in the second week of the spring quarter, or at another date to be decided upon later.

Despite the various conflicts and items of debate, Khaleghi has strong feelings about the fate of the referendum.

“”Something like this will happen eventually,”” he said. “”The University Centers and athletic program have demonstrated a need for action of this kind. Whether it will happen now or later, I don’t know, but it will happen. We need it.””