Charter Policy Forces Council to Stall Referendum Vote Again

    Despite proclaiming the passage of the impending fee referendum to be necessary for the funding of A.S. Programming and student organizations at their first meeting of the new academic year, the A.S. Council’s vote on the referendum has since been delayed for a third time due to bureaucratic complications. (Joseph Ho /Guardian)

    For the third time this quarter, the A.S. Council tabled a motion to introduce a new student activity fee referendum yesterday after realizing that an addendum recently tacked on to the referendum to support the Social and Environmental Sustainability Committee could not be voted on due to the group’s lack of an official charter.

    The council tabled the motion twice previously in order to discuss the referendum with various student organizations and individual college councils so as to achieve greater support for the motion before the referendum goes before the student body.

    Since the inception of the A.S. Council in 1985, the student activity fee, which goes directly to the council, has remained at $21. Following the Promoting Understanding and Learning through Service and Education fee referendum last year, which aimed to fund the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service, the activity fee rose to $28 per student per quarter, but the amount of money the council receives to fund campuswide events such as the Sun God Festival remained the same.

    The current referendum was proposed in reaction to the council’s recent realization that the funding it now receives from student fees is barely enough to sustain current A.S. activities, much less allow for the improvement of any provided services.

    “The A.S. Council has been functioning on the same $21 per student per quarter since the council was founded,” A.S. Associate Vice President of Athletic Relations Peter Benesch said. “We are either going to fail to meet the needs of students, or we will need to increase the amount of money the A.S. Council is receiving from student fees.”

    Currently, A.S. Programming has $200,000 allotted for Sun God. This amount represents less than half the funds spent organizing last year’s festival. Even with the provision of additional funds if the referendum passes, A.S. Programming will still be $80,000 short of the amount needed to maintain the festival’s previous scope.

    “Even if A.S. Programming were to cut every single event we put on other than Sun God, the festival would still be much smaller than previous years’ without the funding from the referendum,” Festivals Coordinator Alex Bramwell said.

    If the council passes the fee referendum, the largest chunk of the newly raised activity fee would go to A.S. Programming. A.S. Student Organization Funding, the group that doles out funds to the ever-increasing number of campus student organizations, would receive a lesser but still substantial $4 per student per quarter.

    Other areas that would receive funds from the proposed fee referendum include the A.S. External Affairs Office, the University of California Student Association Dues, A.S. Safe Ride, the All-Campus Transfer Association and All-Campus Commuter Board, A.S. Women’s Commission and Alliance, KSDT Radio, Student-Run Television and A.S.-mandate reserves.

    A full 29 percent of the fee referendum is allotted for a mandatory “return-to-aid” that will become part of the university’s financial-aid fund.

    If the council, and subsequently the student body, approves the referendum, the proposed fee increase would go into effect Spring Quarter 2009.

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