Council Sidesteps Allegations of Double-Dipping, Senator Snuggling

    Debate returned with a vengeance at last night’s meeting as
    councilmembers argued about how to hold senators accountable and the perils of
    doling out A.S. funds to the same student organization twice.

    Discord first struck when the Committee on Rules and
    Contracts proposed an amendment to the standing rules to create a new
    procedure, complete with audits, to deal with senators with poor attendance
    records.

    “I think, if it’s come to this, there’s a worse problem,”
    said Thurgood Marshall College Chair Lana Blank. “We shouldn’t be policing
    ourselves and chasing each other with attendance [records].”

    Marshall Senator Kyle Samia echoed Blank’s dissatisfaction
    with the proposed solution. “For whatever reason, people don’t show up to shit.
    That’s a structural problem,” he said, suggesting that some senators may be
    shirking council participation because they occupy mostly titular positions.

    Associate Vice President of Student Advocacy Neetu Balram
    endorsed the proposal because it would allow a group of people to “legitimately
    approach” a senator about accountability concerns, as opposed to the less
    formal procedure currently in place.

    The emerging consensus, however, was that the proposal
    needed some rewording before it could be seriously considered.

    To that end, Tanya Piyaratanaphipat moved to table the bill
    for a week so that it could be revisited at the next meeting.

    The next disagreement arose when the council considered funding
    requests. Earl Warren College Senator Peter Benesch objected to a finance bill
    that would fund a spoken-word event jointly hosted by the Muslim Student
    Association and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan. Benesch contended
    that MSA and MEChA were not entitled to additional funding since they both had
    already been awarded money as part of quarterly student organization
    allocations.

    All-Campus Senator Naasir Lakhani sponsored the MSA-MEChA
    bill as part of his senator project to bring Amir Solaiman (of HBO’s Def Poetry
    Jam) to UCSD, among other spoken-word artists.

    “This is going to be one of the most amazing events at UCSD
    this year … I know it will be seen as double-dipping, but this event is
    unprecedented,” Lakhani said.

    Benesch cautioned that passing the bill would set a
    precedent that allows student organizations to secure funding in addition to
    quarterly allocations by cozying up to senators.

    Associate Vice President of Student Organizations Andrew
    Guichet expanded on Benesch’s objection. “I just don’t think we should get on
    the path of student organizations to lobby senators to get extra funds … That
    shouldn’t be a means of getting funds from A.S. [Council],” he said.

    The council ultimately agreed to use some creative financing
    to make an exception.

    To his credit, and after weathering a procedural nightmare,
    Benesch was able to broker a solution by augmenting MEChA’s previously approved
    quarterly allocation as necessary, so that the extra finance bill could be
    withdrawn.

    The appearance of double-dipping was eliminated, although
    the question of senator project funds overlapping with student organization
    allocations was unresolved.

    As with the proposed accountability reform, the council
    agreed to revisit the ethics issue at a later meeting.

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