Council Gets Feisty in Debate Over Loft Referendum

Tensions were high last night between councilmembers and advocates for the Loft as the twice-failed-in-the-past-two-years, now newly revised, Loft fee referendum was brought yet again to the A.S. table at yesterday’s council meeting.

About 30 Loft street team members brought 1,500 student signatures and personal testimonies in hopes of swaying councilmembers to support the $4.47 per student per quarter fees for increased funding for the Loft.

An hour-long public input period followed, as various Loft lovers rose to speak on the venue’s behalf.

“We want to promote diversity and we’ve done that through our events from wine tasting to drag shows,” Loft lover and Marshall senior Rob Corea said. “We offer something unique to this college community.”

However, Muir Commuter Council co-chair Claire Luciano presented ten reasons why the council should not support the Loft’s fee referendum.

“The Loft is a valuable space, but it needs to be a business and not come crying to A.S. every six months for a referendum,” Luciano said. “It’s insulting and disgusting that we know when we have other fee increases to think about, that there’s this Loft referendum.”

During member reports, Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch informed the council that funds from the A.S. Soft Reserves were down 45 percent from last quarter, but a plan is set for a campaign next quarter to boost sales.

After various, seemingly insignificant member reports, the council returned to the issue of the Loft.

The A.S. Special Committee to Review the Proposed University Centers Programming Fee voted earlier to bring the referendum to the council in hopes of a passing vote to put the fee a Winter Quarter 2010 special election ballot.

The committee’s hopes and the Loft lovers’ testimonies only did so much. Councilmembers voted 15-4-2 to postpone the vote for the Loft referendum until third week of Winter Quarter 2010.

Because the council voted to postpone the issue until Winter Quarter, the Loft referendum fee could only make it onto the Spring Quarter ballot if approved. No additional funding would go toward the Loft until Fall Quarter 2010 at the earliest.

VP Student Life Riscie Hernandez, who served on the Special Committee, was visibly unhappy with her fellow councilmembers’ decision.

During question time, Benesch, on behalf of an absent Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh, explained the plans for the Grove Cafe. Plans for mini-pizzas, the use of dining dollars and a more sustainable cafe are in the works. The revamped Grove is set to open first week of Winter Quarter.

Councilmembers sang “Happy Birthday” to AVP Diversity Affairs Jasmine Phillips and congratulated Executive Assistant Heather Lucas on her recent engagement.

Despite the minute of cheer, hard feelings still remained.

“I have lost every bit of respect for you,” Hernandez said, addressing the council. “You all can take some responsibility for deteriorating student life on this campus for the next two months.”

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