Spiriting Away Our Money

STUDENT LIFE — At its Oct. 17 meeting, the A.S. Council
approved a $4,000 funding allocation for Triton Tide — as though the now $3.6
million athletics budget (thanks to last year’s fee referendum) and the
already-allotted $13,400 of council money just wasn’t enough.

This recent allotment is particularly surprising, as it
comes from a council that, just last year, made strides to stop funding
duplication. In fact, the 2007-08 budget approval meeting spurred great debate
over Triton Tide specifically, because the council gave the organization $4,100
less than it had the previous year. However, it appears that in light of an
overwhelming $264,000 carryover, the council has decided to throw logic to the
wind, kneeling to Triton Tide’s ever-persistent leader Dave Payne.

What makes the $4,000 truly aggravating are the
circumstances under which it was allotted. Months ago (and without proper
approval) Triton Tide ordered foam fingers to distribute at games. But this
wasn’t just any we’re-number-one, run-of-the-mill type spirit gear. Classy as
they are, UCSD’s elite spirit crew ordered $2,000 worth of blue-and-gold UCSD
fingers, specially molded into the “shocker” gesture. That’s right, nothing
says school pride like an obscene hand motion. And though the group claimed the
design was meant to represent a trident, anyone who has gone to a UCSD
basketball game (“Shock ’em Tritons!”) knows this is a transparent defense of
the signal’s true meaning.

Fast-forward to the fingers’ arrival and Payne sat beaming
over his brilliant idea. It was A.S. President Marco Murillo and A.S. Vice
President of Finance and Resources Sarah Chang that had to break it to Payne
that it’s generally best not to use explicit or offensive signs to represent
yourself, the university or your school pride.

The fingers were reportedly nixed — $2,000 taken from
student pockets and sent to the trash compactor — and Payne, rather than
realizing his egregious mistake and apologizing for his flagrant abuse of
money, complained for replacement funds and threatened to pass out the peppy
contraband despite unequivocal directions not to do so.

Apparently trying to ameliorate an unruly Payne, Chang and
Murillo appeased greedy hands by sponsoring a finance committee bill that
increased Triton Tide’s funding by $4,000; $2,000 to replace money already
spent on the original fingers and order new ones, and $2,000 more for “rush
shipping” — and whatever else Payne fancies. This brings the council’s
contribution to Triton Tide to a total of $17,400, just $100 less than last
year’s allotment. So much for not duplicating funds.

Then on Oct. 17 the council, frivolous and blase from their
unusually large carryover, approved the bill 13-9-3.

Now regardless of the implication of the shocker, or the
appropriateness thereof, the bottom line is that Payne’s fiscal
irresponsibility and a complete lack of council oversight has forced Triton
Tide to throw away $2,000 of students’ money. But rather than being reprimanded
like the misbehaving child it is, the group’s A.S. Council parent organization
gave that spoiled brat a $2,000 reward.

Forget the initial questions: what could Payne have possibly
been thinking when he ordered something so obviously distasteful? And why are
student fees being spent on something as useless as foam fingers anyway? We
should recognize how telling this event is of the council’s spending practices.

Where was the council oversight?

And even more importantly, why does the council continue to
fund Triton Tide in the first place? Students are now handing athletics $3.6
million a year, no strings attached, which the department has spent on who knows what. The least it could do is pump a
few grand into publicizing its own events.

But try to suggest that at a council meeting, and feel the
irrational wrath of zealots Payne and All-Campus Senator Meghan Clair, an
unwavering Triton Tide ally. Apparently, for the 2007-08 council, it isn’t about
supporting the decisions that make the most sense; it’s about who can yell the
loudest and what it takes to shut them up.

Instead of an efficient, logical or even priority-based
distribution of funds, the council, under constant pressure from Triton Tide
supporters, is throwing thousands of dollars around like candy. And students
are suckered into paying more and more, just to see their activity fees wasted.

It’s good for Payne: In being completely insufferable, his
incompetence was ignored and his beloved Triton Tide was allowed to literally
throw away $2,000 of student fees. Meanwhile, many organizations and student
services, which actually affect a far greater number of students than the few
that attend athletic games, remain underfunded.

Maybe these starving organizations should learn something
from Payne: All it takes for their slice of the carryover pie is to harass
chunks of it out of the council.

When asked about Triton Tide and the recent funding
allotment, Payne declined to comment.

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