A.S. Approves New Fee Referendum

    Councilmembers discussed the passage of the activity fee referendum at a marathon meeting last night that dragged on past 2 a.m. The council was faced with issues such as whether to include funding for the Loft within the referendum and a decision to transfer reserve funds to A.S. Programming. (John Hanacek/Guardian)

    After more than a month of deliberation, the A.S. Council green-lighted a campus activity fee referendum last night that would raise student fees by a total of $19.82 per quarter if approved by the student body during the second week of Winter Quarter.

    Designed to pull the council out of a funding deficit that currently threatens to cripple A.S. Programming, the referendum’s passage by councilmembers has been hindered by a number of obstacles over the past several weeks, including a last-minute addendum to fund a new campus sustainability center.

    At last night’s meeting, the council debated including funding for the Loft, UCSD’s new nightclub, in the referendum. Earlier in the evening, University Events Office Director Martin Wollesen approached the council with a request that the Loft, currently experiencing its own funding shortfall, be considered for inclusion.

    The potential addition of a $2.65 fee per student per quarter that would financially support future Loft events proved contentious, as a divided council debated the appropriateness of requesting that students fund a project over which Associated Students has no control.

    While some councilmembers argued that the Loft is vital to UCSD’s social and cultural development and therefore worth funding, others saw the Loft’s request for cash as an imposition by the administration upon student funds.

    “Putting the question about the Loft fee on our ballot will hurt the legitimacy of our campaign and the integrity of our referendum because we don’t have a guarantee of transparency and oversight over the money that will go to the Loft,” Vice President of External Affairs Lisa Chen said.

    Others argued that the question should be left up to the student body, suggesting that the referendum be separated into two questions, with one pertaining directly to whether funding be allocated to the Loft.

    The council ultimately decided to shelve the Loft’s proposal for the time being and move on to issues pertaining directly to the original referendum legislation.

    Also prominent on the council’s agenda was the option of transferring $80,000 from A.S. Mandate Reserves to A.S. Programming in order to supplement the funds that would be raised if the referendum is approved.

    Associate Vice President of Programming Garrett Berg explained that additional funding would be necessary to organize a Sun God Festival on the same scale as those of previous years. He said that a failure to produce sufficient funds would yield two options for the popular festival: cancel the event entirely and save next year’s festival or stage a drastically smaller event in its place.

    “Without money from the referendum, Sun God won’t resemble the event that students have come to expect in any way,” Berg said.

    The council voted to move the funds from Mandate Reserves to Programming upon passage of the referendum. If the student body rejects the referendum, no additional funds will be raised for Mandate Reserves — which is slated to gain an additional $0.70 per student per quarter if the referendum passes — leaving no reserve funds available for Programming.

    A straw poll indicated that the majority of councilmembers wished to vote on the referendum in its current form. Members then discussed minor issues such as future inflation rates and the implementation of a four-year moratorium on A.S. referenda, which would prevent students from facing multiple referenda throughout their careers at UCSD.

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