Council Gets Heated Over BSU, Sun God Funding

The time is upon us… again. You know that saying, third time’s the charm? Tonight, A.S. Council put that to the test.         But before the floodgates were opened, public input had to happen.  This week, a very emotional Black Student Union dominated public input.  David Ritcherson, Director of Financial Affairs of S.P.A.C.E.S. and former chair of the Black Student Union, expressed disappointment and anger toward the council’s decision to not fund BSU’s annual Kwanzaa as a tradition event.  BSU members were outraged by the absence of VP of Finance Andrew Ang due to a midterm, and criticized him for lack of communication.

The BSU members argued that Kwanzaa is second only to Sun God as the biggest tradition that takes place at UCSD.  Various councilmembers argued in favor of funding the event despite the lack of protocol followed. VP of Student Life Kristina Pham stated that not funding Kwanzaa would prove detrimental to the university as a whole and suggesting revisiting the funding guidelines.

Council decided to fund Kwanzaa as a tradition event by pulling funds from their administration and overallocation budgets.

Budget talks finally arrived.  Even the projector appeared wary of what was coming, as it decided to not cooperate with projecting the dreaded document.

And it began, with considering the nearly five-page budget line by line.  As councilmembers debated various items, A.S. President Wafa Ben Hassine paused to point that she was noticing the gradual de-prioritization of A.S. Council offices and the prioritization of the Student Life Office, which revolved around Concerts and Events.  A.S. Concerts and Events was criticized for asking for more money for its Senior Sendoff Bear Garden. Multiple councilmembers noted the issue of budget cuts as well as the financial problems that many students are facing at our university.

With a heated argument and numerous councilmembers visibly upset, the Sun God line item budget was increased from $508,340 to around $530,000.

Council’s vote to fund BSU after repeatedly insisting that its violated protocol in the funding process only led to Finance Chief of Staff Lynne Swerhone to call for the funding of Muir Musical, which also lost tradition funding due to problems with protocol.

This brought a backlash, with councilmembers insisting that there was no money left in the piggy bank that is the council budget to provide another exception.

The repeated back and forth among members eventually led to an outburst by SAAC Representative Grant White, who took time to “point out the big white elephant in the room” and accuse A.S. Council with breeding racism, homophobia and misogyny from its council meetings.  He ended his outburst by briefly leaving the Forum.  With the outburst, tensions rose so high that a 15-minute break was called for. Would the ice melt in those 15 minutes?  I wouldn’t find out, as I took my leave from this exhausting journey.

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