Council Denies $13K Funding to UC Haiti Benefit Concert

Last night’s meeting lasted about two hours: no council record, though the bulk of the time was spent on two New Business items.

A controversial debate stemmed from President Wafa Ben Hassine’s request for $670 from the General Initiative Fund for a Power Shift sustainability conference in Washington, D.C. Ben Hassine was invited to be a facilitator and to give a workshop. Many councilmembers were concerned about the funding, as many senators still have projects to fund.

The proposed amount was amended to $610. Ben Hassine, along with AVP of Diversity Affairs Alyssa Peace and Arts and Humanities Senator Shunya Wade, stressed that these senators had not yet submitted budgets for their events and Ben Hassine should not be denied money to represent our campus in D.C. on the basis that future projects also require money. Ben Hassine also said her office’s budget this year was only $1,000.

Transfer Senator Samer Naji was also supportive of sending Ben Hassine to D.C., and he said he would scrap his senator project for her. Campuswide Senator Michael Raimondi argued in support of funding Ben Hassine because UCSD is one of two schools in the nation with a Fair Trade policy, and it would be disgraceful not to send her. Apparently, everyone else agreed: the request passed nearly unanimously.

At least an hour was spent on the next topic, which was a student request for $12,937 from the Student Initiative Fund to fund a UC Haiti Initiative concert. UC Haiti Initiative student member Brad Segal said the concert is part of a UC benefit tour to bring awareness to Haiti rehabilitation. Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars and Below would perform.

The Student Initiative Fund currently holds $15,000. Many were hesitant to give 80 percent of the total funds to the initiative. Multiple councilmembers, including Campuswide Senator Elizabeth Elman, said that the initiative fund hasn’t been promoted well — meaning that some students who would otherwise have accessed the fund haven’t made the effort. Several have also been turned away, as there’s no form to request funds.

Another concern was that only four other UC schools are participating in the benefit tour: UCLA, UCSC, UCSB and UCSF. Only UCSB has so far moved to fund the event.

An amendment cut the cost in half, but council ultimately voted against funding the concert. Many members felt that Segal did not go through the proper channels to obtain funding.

Segal also stated that if only half the budget he requested was given, he would just donate the funds instead of finding those from other sources to plan the concert.

The meeting dragged on through open forum, during which various members repeated themselves, such as AVP of College Affairs Leonard Bobbitt, who continually reminded everyone that it’s elections week. Don’t worry, Bobbitt: you’re preaching to the choir.

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