Council Strikes Loft From Fee Referendum

University Events Office Director Martin Wollesen first introduced the measure to the council on Oct. 15. According to the budget he provided, the proposed $2.65 quarterly student fee would have enabled the Loft to continue offering the ambitious programming it has demonstrated since its opening on Sept. 25.

Over the past month, the A.S. Council forum has been a referendum battleground, divided by those who support and those who oppose the Loft’s funding request.

Sixth College Senator Vishal Kotcherlakota said many councilmembers appreciate the Loft’s frequent events and intimate space, but that the majority of them feel the university should demonstrate greater financial responsibility for the enterprise that it developed.

‘There are other services on campus that could use that same $2.65 and do a lot more with it,’ Kotcherlakota said. ‘Building something that [the administration] could not support themselves is what upset a lot of councilmembers.’

Some councilmembers were also upset that the referendum would not give the council control over use of the Loft’s profits, despite the fact that the nightclub’s funding would be generated in part by student activity fees.

At its Nov. 5 meeting, the council witnessed the largest public-comment turnout of the year. Among participants was former councilmember Kyle Samia, who defended the Loft and urged the council to demand that certain stipulations be met to satisfy the issue of student control.

‘This is our opportunity for bargaining,’ Samia said. ‘We don’t get many opportunities to bargain. The A.S. Council needs to step up and be a part of this exchange.’

A.S. President Donna Bean subsequently created the Special Committee on the Loft to discuss and revise the language of the provision that Wollesen had drafted for the council.

After a week of heavy editing and collaboration with Wollesen, the SCOTL brought forward a new proposal last week that guaranteed the council a percentage of generated profits and enabled the council to suspend the allocation of A.S. funds if it decided that the money was being misused.

Despite these revisions, the measure was defeated by a four-vote margin, with no abstentions.

Without A.S. funding, Wollesen said the Loft will be forced to reexamine its plans for Winter Quarter, possibly offering fewer events free to students. He said he plans to continue working with the council to develop a Spring Quarter referendum.

‘Even though there were some people who weren’t ready to put it on this [A.S.] referendum, they are all generally very supportive of the Loft,’ Wollesen said. ‘We want to continue to work with A.S. to get the right format for spring.’

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