Spirit Group’s Purchase Divides Council

    Campus spirit group Triton Tide’s purchase of sexually
    suggestive novelty foam fingers over summer came under scrutiny by A.S.
    councilmembers at their Oct. 17 meeting, where they debated and ultimately
    passed a finance bill granting the group an additional $4,000 to buy more
    merchandise.

    The $2,100 shipment of foam fingers arrived at the start of
    the school year and was immediately prevented from distribution upon inspection
    by A.S. President Marco Murillo and Vice President of Finance and Resources
    Sarah Chang.

    The foam fingers resembled a sexual hand gesture known as a
    “shocker,” which is similar to a trident hand gesture that UCSD fans wave at
    athletic events.

    The novelty items have since been put into a trash
    compactor.

    “My reaction was, ‘Oh my God, what just happened?’” Chang
    said of her first sighting of the foam fingers. “We saw a few reactions from
    female students and staff workers … and an executive decision was made not to
    distribute [them].”

    Murillo said the fingers’ gesture was also not what he had
    envisioned as the design.

    Chang said after she and Murillo spoke with Triton Tide
    Director Dave Payne, they greed on sponsoring $4,000 finance bill for the
    spirit club in order to allow Triton Tide to buy appropriate custom-made foam
    fingers. The bill passed by a vote of 13-9-3.

    The discussion between Chang and Payne became part of the
    debate about the additional funding.

    “[Payne] was promised $4,000 to purchase new foam fingers,”
    said All-Campus Senator Meghan Clair, a supporter of the item. “From that I
    formulated my decision that it would be in the best interest of A.S. [Council]
    to give the money to Triton Tide.”

    Chang refuted claims that she had promised money to Payne,
    and reiterated that she had told him that the finance bill would be on the
    agenda but a majority vote by the council would decide whether the funding
    would be granted.

    At the meeting, Thurgood Marshall College Senator Kyle Samia
    joined Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Long Pham in strongly
    opposing the finance bill, and the two still stand by their objections.

    “Clearly, there was a lack of judgment … [but] no one is out
    there to get Triton Tide,” Samia said. “We just want Triton Tide to be held
    accountable.”

    Samia characterized the incident as one of fiscal
    irresponsibility and poor leadership, questioning Payne’s decision-making
    ability.

    “It’s really, really irresponsible,” he said. “What does
    that say about us if we fund people flippantly? [Payne] didn’t show anyone
    anything … he just bought them. When Triton Tide makes a mistake, they
    shouldn’t be pardoned. There are some people who have no concept of students’
    money.”

    Samia noted a lack of communication surrounding the purchase
    of the foam fingers. He said that when the council endorsed Payne’s idea of
    buying foam fingers late last school year, there was no further discussion
    about which foam fingers to purchase.

    Triton Tide followed through with the purchase plans by
    buying foam fingers from a retailer who specializes in “shocker” merchandise,
    Samia said.

    Although Samia saw the council’s willingness to let Payne
    make the buying decision on his own as a “big misplacement of trust,” Clair
    said that Payne shouldn’t be blamed for making a decision on which no one else
    provided input.

    “No one except Dave had been involved in purchasing them,”
    she said. “I hope that the people who found them inappropriate are involved in
    the purchase of the new fingers.”

    Clair said Triton Tide has already allocated its funding for
    this year, which is why it did not have its own additional funding to draw on
    to replace the unusable fingers.

    “Other student organizations received additional funding
    this fall too,” she said.

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