Facing Funding Deficit, Councilmembers Propose Emergency Referendum

The first official A.S. Council meeting of the year commenced somewhat sluggishly after much lighthearted chatter between members regarding their respective summer adventures.

During public input, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gary Ratcliff welcomed the council’s return and gave a quick update on the new eateries in Price Center East. He also plugged the unveiling of the Triton Sculpture at the base of the Triton steps on Oct. 16 at 11 a.m.

Associate Vice President of Programming Garrett Berg reminded everyone that FallFest and the Stunna Shades Dance in the Loft are this Friday and Saturday, respectively. He urged everyone to arrive early at the events to increase their chances of getting in.
On a more somber note, Vice President of External Affairs Lisa Chen urged councilmembers to help with the A.S. voter-registration effort, which has thus far garnered the assistance of only three members.

The night’s heavyweight issue was introduced about 45 minutes into the meeting, when A.S. President Donna Bean, Berg and Associate Vice President of Student Organizations Utsav Gupta presented the proposed A.S. Activity Fee Referendum for Fall 2008.

In 2008, the council distributed a survey asking students to select the A.S. services and programs that they most support. Rounding out the favorites were the Sun God Festival, student organization events and A.S. Safe Ride, for which 54 percent of students said they would support paying an increase.

Currently, a lack of sufficient funding threatens to cripple the A.S. Programming office. Subsequently, the results of the 2008 survey were used to formulate the referendum presented at last night’s meeting, which if approved would provide the finances that various organizations, events and services.

Members of the council hammered out their issues with the $42 per student per year referendum, which is broken down as follows: $12 for student organizations, $16.50 programming and about $3 for other A.S. line items.

Chen expressed concern that the council would have only seven weeks to campaign for the referendum.

“If the referendum doesn’t pass, then my office is in an impossible situation,” Berg said in response. “We’d have to cancel all of our winter programming and our spring programming and still not have enough money for Sun God.”

Bean pointed out that council has never had a referendum before, and that this one is long overdue.

“If [the referendum doesn’t pass], a lot of people are going to hate us this year,” she said.

The council will vote on the referendum next Wednesday.

Toward the end of the meeting, Physical Sciences Senator Rishi Ghosh broke the news of his departure from council and UCSD due to personal reasons. He urged the council to continue to pay close attention to issues he worked intimately with, such as opposing the recently passed systemwide nonaffiliate free speech policy.