Council May Not Fund ’14 Cultural Graduations

The yearly alternative ceremonies may be cancelled due to a lack of A.S. funds.

 

Student organization funding requests, including “graduation-related” events put on by student organizations, may be cut due to an exhaustion of the A.S Council’s programming budget. According to VP Finance and Resources Sean O’Neal, A.S. Council began this year with $436,000 in the Mandate Reserves and currently has $358,000. The funding requests for the next three weeks, including the request for the cultural graduation ceremonies, would deplete about $50,000 from the reserves.

Heated debate sparked between A.S. Council members on Wednesday, April 9 in the council meeting, during which they discussed whether taking money out of the Mandate Reserves is the appropriate action to take. These reserves are a separate account with money that A.S. Council is supposed to use only in dire or extreme situations.

Campus-wide senator Jehoan Espinoza commented on his disappointment regarding the graduation-related events that may be cut.

“I am a first-generation college student,” Espinoza said. “Our graduation ceremony is to celebrate our family, who is a very big supporter of our education. It is very disheartening that there might not be graduation events because of our A.S. vote.”

A.S. Council discussed several options, including the possibility of either denying student organizations the money to finance graduation-related events or funding the organizations by “dipping into” UCSD’s Mandate Reserves. However, by taking money out of the Mandate Reserves, the current A.S. Council will be setting the next group of council members into debt.

A third option is a compromise: take a certain amount of money out of the Mandate Reserves, fund only specific student organizations whose events are critical to the graduation experience and prepare a plan for next year’s council members to work out of the debt.

Campus-wide senator Austin Peters stated his concern regarding the extent of money A.S. Council might have to withdraw from the reserves.

“I don’t think we quite understand the scale of the problem here,” Peters said. “We’re talking in the scope of potentially $90,000 to $100,000, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to make that up.”

AVP Academic Affairs Robby Boparai commented on the negative effects on student organizations due to their expectations of funding from A.S. Council.

“[A.S. Council members] have to realize the precedent has been set that [student organizations] are going to fund these things anyway,” Boparai said. “They don’t know that everything is going to run out and they have to get their funding requests earlier. I think we need to think outside the box and take on the perspective of graduating seniors.”

AVP Student Advocacy Alex Noronha compared UCSD’s Mandate Reserves to Congress’ “rainy-day” funds. He stressed how Congress only reaches for their safety money in times of recession or when stocks fall dramatically, hinting that A.S. Council has reached for its safety money too many times this past year.

“I guess this year A.S. was in a rainy day,” Noronha said.

Transfer Senator Ricky Martorana disapproved of withdrawing money from the reserves, as the reserves will lower substantially if funds are withdrawn.

“This will set a precedent that dipping into Mandate Reserves at a 50-percent level is okay,” Martorana said. “And that’s not okay.”

Former UCSD student and current APSA President Mason Fong spoke of his concerns about the future implications of this problem.

“This is an item that I hope does not end in a polarized answer to either cut funds or not have funds at all,” said Fong. “If you’re pissing off the people who vote, keep it in mind that the amount of voters will go down. This sets a precedent for next year’s council.”