A Council Thriller: Bringing Fees Back from the Dead

In contrast to the politically charged meetings characteristic of pre-special election January, the first A.S. Council meeting of February was relatively calm and productive; the decision by roughly 8-percent of the student body last week to overturn a Student-Run Television porn ban attracted surprisingly little focus.

The only SRTV-related discussion took place during the reports, when Vice President of Academic Affairs Harry Khanna said that the SRTV task force was “very close” to producing what could be a potential final draft of the new station charter.

“We are on track for getting the station back on the air,” Khanna said, adding that the goal of the task force was to submit the new charter within the next week. Khanna added that the task force has been in talks with acting Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff to get the station running between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., hours in which the airing of pornographic material is banned by the former charter in voluntary compliance with federal regulations.

Although the council’s porn ban was technically defeated by the election, there was nothing but smiles and applause for Special Election Manager Puneet Gupta, who officially announced the results to the council and thanked them for their participation in advertising the vote to the student body.

“I want to thank those of you who helped spread the word to your constituents to overcome student apathy,” Gupta said.

The topic of student fees was breached again during council caucus, where A.S. President Christopher Sweeten asked for council opinion about a proposed increase in student-activity fees to be submitted to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson.

The council was asked whether or not it would prefer to propose an $8 fee increase per quarter earmarked especially for the A.S. Programming Office, or a $4-per-quarter increase for unrestricted use, with additional $4-per-quarter hikes to follow every five years. Both would have to be approved by the student body.

In considering the two options, councilmembers wondered about their ability to garner student support for a fee increase, and whether or not the idea of an increase was itself contrary to the council’s position on lowering the cost of higher education for students.

“It seems like every freaking year we have a fee increase,” Revelle College Senior Senator Rachel Corell said, speaking in support of the gradual increase option.

Thurgood Marshall College Senior Senator Kate Pillon took a more cautious stance on the referenda.

“I think we just need respect enough to only ask for what we absolutely need,” she said.

However, for John Muir College Senior Senator Conrad Ohashi, things seemed a bit more cut and dry. He concluded, “A.S. needs the money. Period.”

Ultimately, the council decided in an informal straw poll that the majority supported the $8 programming increase.