A Financial Furlough

 

On television game shows, contestants sometimes will eat cockroaches or jump from planes to earn a quarter of a million dollars. At UCSD, the six college student councils have their own way to earn that sum of money: charge everyone enrolled in classes 65 cents in student fees every quarter for six years.

The difference, however, is that the game show winners actually receive their cash prizes after the competition. College councils have not received a penny of the funding that A.S. Council owes them since 2006.

According to a recent report compiled by a former councilmember, A.S. Council has withheld over $44,000 in funding to the college student councils for most of the past decade. The fee, which was approved by the student body as a 50-cent increase in 1985 and raised to 65 cents in 1988, is meant to be allocated annually back to college councils, but A.S. Council discontinued the funding allocation to college councils in 2006.

Years later, council has been served with a grievance for the financial neglect which the co-authors of the document say is an A.S. constitutional mandate. Granted, we expect that there is likely some political motivation behind the timing of the grievance, but the authors — all three former councilmembers — see only two solutions: end the fee by a repeal referendum, or cough up the dough. A.S. Council needs to stop avoiding the college council funding action, and stop violating its own constitution.

College council funding exists to boost student activity funding at the college level, at least in theory. The money is not a ton of coin (What would one expect for 65 cents?), but the roughly $8,000 each college expects to receive annually is certainly enough to run a sizable event, or help maintain basic operations.

With that in mind, the loss of the funding hasn’t completely killed the college councils. The six councils, at least since we’ve been here, have been fully operational and are making do, even in the face of financial struggle (a familiar feeling). It is certainly possible that college councils are treading water or even thriving in the absence of the money they are owed, but the real problem lies with the fee-paying student.

Students pay this fee because folks old enough to be our parents voted to fund the then-four college councils to breathe life into the part of our university that the admissions office prides itself in “making a big university small.” We aren’t paying into the system just to boost A.S. Council’s own checkbook. This fee is inherently owed to colleges, and if they aren’t seeing the green, we shouldn’t pay the fee.

The real antagonists here are not the current councilmembers, who were only sworn in four weeks ago. A tentative budget for the 2013–2014 year shows A.S. Council planning a small allotment of around $7,300 to the colleges (albeit with an asterisk indicating that the allocation is up for review in the fall). This is certainly a step in the right direction, but nowhere near the $248,144.85 cited in the report released last week.

A.S. Council has been spending the money owed to college councils as if it were part of its normal revenue, with the funds being allocated elsewhere — in part to close gaps in its budget like it had in Fall Quarter 2012. Regardless of fault, current students are still paying for what has become a small Band-Aid for a bullet wound to the chest of budgetary issues.

As of now, it’s a higher priority for us to see our fees go toward something tangible. We pay a RIMAC fee, and thus, we have access to use the RIMAC facilities. Our athletic fees pay for us to have sports teams. The same is true for our University Centers fees. We expect some bang for our buck, but our student leaders have been shooting blanks for years.

Council needs to address this issue before we enter another year of paying for nothing. And while the grievance should push this issue to the top of the current council’s agenda, we hope that the political climate among our campus leaders remains stable and that this doesn’t spark a year of divide.

Councilmembers aren’t exempt from fees — they pay them, too. But we all deserve to be held to the simple economic principle of getting what we pay for.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$0
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$0
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal