Council Puts off Loft Fee Discussion

If passed, the referendum would create $4.47 in additional fees for undergraduates and $3.82 for graduates. Additionally, the proposal would require that at least 80 percent of all events at the Loft be pay-as-you-can for UCSD students and that undergraduates represent at least 60 percent of the venue’s hiring staff.

Last year, councilmembers debated a similar Loft referendum, which would have implemented a fee of $2.62. The council ultimately rejected the proposal due to concerns with student oversight. The suggested fee has such risen, partly due to a difference in enrollment numbers, but also because Loft representatives requested a larger lump sum.

“Last year, we hoped that we would be receiving more money from registration fees,” Loft director Martin Wollesen said. “Unfortunately, with budget cuts, this was unable to happen.”

According to Wollesen, without the proposed fee, the Loft will be unable to maintain programming, resulting in admission changes and student lay-offs.

Student oversight, a main factor in the debate over last year’s Loft proposal, was also a decisive factor in the council’s discussion last night.

The oversight language outlined in the referendum was approved by the majority of the A.S. special committee formed to discuss the referendum. Wollesen also said he found the level of student oversight provided for in the original referendum to be acceptable, but Gupta said that the amount of power students would receive over Loft operations was not extensive enough.

In its current form, the referendum would give the University Centers Advisory Board the ability to review and approve the allocation of funds for the Loft each year by majority vote. UCAB would also be able to reduce or eliminate the fee entirely if two-thirds of all voting UCAB student members at two consecutive meetings vote as such.

Gupta said the delegation of oversight was a problem.

“The majority of the student oversight goes toward UCAB,” Gupta said. “UCAB mainly deals with facilities management and doesn’t have experience in running programs, so it doesn’t seem to make sense that A.S. input is minimal.”

A.S. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and UCAB chair Jordan Taylor said UCAB is capable of handling the responsibilities.

“UCAB may deal primarily with structures, but we’re more than landlords,” Taylor said. “This new programmatic aspect is a role that UCAB is suited for.”

Gupta drafted several amendments to the proposal that would change the oversight structure to create a student majority Loft governing board. Members of the board would be appointed by students and have governance over the Loft’s entire budget.

“If passed, students will be paying for more than 50 percent of the Loft operations, so they need to gain governance over the actual execution of fees,” Gupta said. “I would like oversight over the entire operation.”

Under Gupta’s proposal, college councils and student organizations would be able to use the Loft space for free.

A.S. Vice President of Student Life Riscie Hernandez opposed the oversight amendments.

“A.S. is not good at owning things,” Hernandez said. “Our only experience [is] in budgeting and making sure our student fees properly go toward what needs to be done.”

Another key issue of debate surrounding the proposal was whether it would be placed on the Spring Quarter A.S. elections ballot along with several other referendums or put before students Winter Quarter in the form of a special election.

After concluding that the Loft’s current funding is inadequate to last the remainder of the year, the committee originally voted to run the referendum Winter Quarter in order to provide the venue with additional funds by Spring Quarter 2010.

“We’re out of money, and without the referendum, we can’t continue with our programming,” he said.

However, Gupta said running a Spring Quarter referendum was more appropriate.

“This push for Winter Quarter has created a reduced schedule where we don’t have enough time to review everything,” Gupta said.

According to Gupta, the hours spent discussing the issue were inadequate given the weight of the decision. The committee met a total of three times.

“The special committee had less than half membership during its meetings and only two voting members of the council,” Gupta said. “The committee failed, and the argument that it should be approved just because it went through a committee is ludicrous.”

Taylor was disappointed at the decision to postpone a vote on the referendum.

“Scare tactics were used to create a false sense of urgency that wasn’t there,” Taylor said. “Weeks of meetings went into this referendum and so much work on the part of individual members and UCAB.”

Gupta said more time was needed to examine the referendum.

“There were not hours and hours of work put into this — there were four or five,” Gupta said. “This postponement was the responsible action to take.”

Wollesen said that Loft representatives will continue to campaign for the referendum to be on the Spring Quarter 2010 ballot.

Readers can contact Angela Chen at [email protected].

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