A.S. voted to dip into the “rainy-day” funds to replace money diverted to KSDT and college council allocations.
“This year, we were trying to rebuild A.S. and make sure we were doing everything lawfully,” O’Neal said. “Past councils ignored or were not even aware of these issues. We might have had less money to work with, and that might have hurt organizations a bit, but we were doing everything legally according to UCSD and UC Office of the President policies.”
The vote passed 27–4–0, although according to Revelle Senator Soren Nelson, at the beginning of the council meeting, many more council members had intended on voting “no.” Multiple representatives from student organizations came into the meeting to ask A.S. Council to withdraw the funds. According to next year’s VP Finances and Resources Igor Geyn, these students’ personal testimonies were “incredibly powerful and moving.”
“I don’t feel what happened in A.S. over the past couple years should fall on student orgs,” Geyn said. “We need to have that rainy-day fund, but it’s also a public institution and people are paying in student fees. They’re only here for four years, so trying to make sure that people who are paying in student fees are getting events, services and programs back should be as important as maintaining that emergency fund.”
Nelson, one of the four council members who voted against pulling funds from Mandate Reserves, felt uncomfortable withdrawing reserves without a plan for replacing them.
“It’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen,” Nelson said. “The point of reserves is to be that buffer between us and uncertainty. The reality of it is that this association just doesn’t bring in enough money to do what students want it to. Internal structural changes aren’t going to be enough; the student activity fee will just have to go up.”
Geyn, however, sees re-allocation as a better solution than increasing student fees. Tritons Forward — the slate that won every executive, campuswide and academic senator position — campaigned on the platform of increasing the A.S. Council budget without raising the student activity fee by implementing measures such as an A.S. coffee cart or dining hall. The revenue made from these proposed ventures would go toward the general A.S. budget. Whether this would be allocated toward the programming budget or another part of the A.S. budget may be later determined.
“I think part of it is just that we have a growing number of student orgs on campus,” Geyn said. “Anything that we can do as A.S. to cut our own costs [and] make the AVP offices more efficient and bring in additional sources of revenue is going to be crucial. Like it or not, our job is to continue to fund these student organizations because they are the lifeblood of the undergraduate experience.”
The ad hoc Special Committee on Assessing Student Organization Funding was created on Wednesday, April 16, to research possible solutions to A.S. Council’s lack of necessary revenue and to ensure this does not happen again. Geyn believes that part of this will be understanding where the students want funds to go.
“If you put more into programming, you take out of the other things that students care about as well,” Geyn said. “Who’s to say that by re-allocating, you aren’t creating the same issue with a different face on it?”
The $60,000 withdrawal leaves $300,000 in the Mandate Reserves, which O’Neal thinks will be sufficient for next year. While Geyn agrees, he acknowledges that it limits Council’s flexibility in the case of an emergency situation.
In addition to the $60,000 that was withdrawn last week, approximately $70,000 was taken from Mandate Reserves for other initiatives in the past year. Student organizations took out $27,000 in interest-free student loans and will return funds by the end of the year.