Outreach referendum to go before student vote

    Members of the A.S. Council have approved the addition of a referendum to the April ballot, asking students to vote on a $3 increase in quarterly student activity fees. The money would go to fund student-initiated outreach programs and first be assessed in fall 2005.

    Initially, the Student-Initiated Outreach and Recruitment Commission began collecting the 3,000 signatures necessary for students to add a referendum to the ballot. Unsure if the commission could meet the Feb. 28 deadline, it asked the A.S. Council to step in to add the item without the petition.

    In order for it to pass, the measure will need approval from more than 50 percent of voters, and at least 20 percent of the student body must participate in the poll.

    “Outreach, more specifically student-initiated outreach, is at the bottom of the list of concerns for the state,” A.S. President Jenn Pae said. “In order to have stable funding, it is imperative that this referendum passes and SIORC will continue for future years.”

    Although the commission received $41,000 from the A.S. Council this year, the state budget cuts have greatly affected SIORC funding, according to Marina Martos, an A.S. external affairs legislative lobbyist liaison and a proponent of the referendum.

    Three years ago, the state legislature awarded $1 million to fund student outreach programs on all UC campuses, $120,000 of which went to UCSD. However, the state has gradually cut funding and SIORC is running out of money, according to A.S. Vice President External Rigo Marquez.

    “We are now existing on rollover money from the first few years, but we will run out in two years,” Martos said. “If we’re not proactive in securing money from the students, we will run out. Now is the time to act.”

    UCSD is not the first UC campus to attempt to implement student funding for student outreach. UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and UC Riverside all contribute portions of their activity fees to similar programs. The largest of such fees is assessed at UCLA, which charges each student $6 per year. UCLA’s chancellor of the campus then matches the total. The campus is considering raising the student contribution to $10, which would also be matched by the chancellor.

    SIORC is modeling its own program after the UCLA program, due to the similarities between the campus’ program structures, according to Martos.

    If the referendum passes, money granted to SIORC would fund the creation of new programs and improvement of old programs, according to Marquez.

    Student-initiated outreach, operated exclusively by students, encourages students from underprivileged backgrounds to pursue higher education. These programs provide information on topics such as financial aid, the requirements for admission to the UC system and SAT preparation. The programs also fund high school conferences informing students of college options, particularly those in the UC system.

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