Leadership Panel Holds First Meeting

uc_color_logoThe Civic Leadership Fund’s newest chapter invited past and present A.S. councilmembers to speak.

The Civic Leadership Fund’s new UCSD chapter, a division of the national nonprofit organization, hosted its first leadership panel on Tuesday, May 27, in Price Center Theater. The panel included five total incoming and outgoing members of A.S. Council who hope to foster civic engagement and interdisciplinary discussions.

The cofounders of CLF UCSD invited former Associate Vice-President of Enterprise Operations Irene Chang, Associate Vice-President of Environmental and Social Justice Sierra Donaldson, Vice President of Finance and Resources Igor Geyn, former Sixth College Senator Allison Bagnol and former Campuswide Senator Jehoan Espinoza to speak at the panel. The organization’s Executive Director Anuj Kommareddy asked the panel questions that focused on A.S. Council’s finances and communication.

Kommareddy began by pointing out the various budget difficulties that the previous and current Council encountered — including the large mandate reserve withdrawal to fund cultural, graduation-related events — and asked what reevaluations or changes were made to prevent any future crises in the coming year.

Geyn explained that the Council would pay particular attention to student organization funding, which currently receives one of the largest allocations from the A.S. budget.

“We’re looking at the existing policies and looking at ways we can be more transparent,” Geyn said. “Obviously only some of us are in A.S. Council, but almost all of us here at UCSD are in some kind of student org, so we want to make sure that students have the ability to put on events and programs, as well as looking at ways to boost our enterprises and services.”

Donaldson added how pivotal it was for A.S. Council to have recognized that overspending was a real issue, thus leading to discussions about possible long-term solutions. Geyn acknowledged the difficulty in prioritizing certain programs over others, but said that gaining input from students was an important first step. He further noted that college councils were a great, alternative source of student organization funding.

Kommareddy later asked about the panel’s view on past A.S. Council relations with college councils, as well as ways to better facilitate cooperation between them.

Espinoza said that communication was not always adequate, especially due to tensions arising from last year’s budget constraints. He suggested that A.S. Council and college councils collaborate on campuswide projects to restore relations and interactions. Chang said she thought that the high turnover rate of all councilmembers made it difficult to transfer knowledge and perspectives, which hampered relations between councils. Bagnol added that the associate vice-president of college affairs would need to step up and make sure all seven governing bodies were on the same page.

As for relations with administrators, most of the panel agreed that they had multiple avenues of contact due to their student government positions, including sitting on campuswide committees. Unlike the other members, however, Chang held more negative views on her committee interactions.

“Certainly, there are committees and commissions for everything you can possibly think of, but it’s hard to follow up and follow through,” she said. “At the end of the day, the administration has its own choice in terms of what it wants … Some of them are really helpful and really beneficial, but they can put their foot down in some aspects.”

Continuing with views on student body relations, Donaldson said that although Council has been reaching out to a more diverse constituency, there is still a large portion of the student population that is not actively involved or aware of its operations. Geyn and Bagnol added how fundamental it is for A.S. representatives to remain involved and informative with students, especially with transportation and other relevant issues.

Kommareddy closed the discussion by asking the panel’s experience working alongside organizations outside UCSD. The speakers unanimously said it is important to expand outside of the UCSD “bubble” and to become civically involved with specific San Diego community issues.

After the event, Kommareddy and his fellow CLF UCSD cofounders told the UCSD Guardian that the Leadership Panel was a success. They thought it was effective to focus on a large governing body like ASUCSD, including its flaws and possible solutions, to promote greater student involvement. CLF UCSD hopes to hold regular, publicized panels with other student speakers in the future, including an annual discussion between outgoing and incoming A.S. Council officials.

Publicized panels are only one of several long-term projects, the largest of which will be a Youth Leadership Conference held in October that plans to hold seminars presented by various guest organizations, like Launch Progress. The CLF UCSD’s hope is that this will give young people a yearly “avenue to form new relationships and come up with exciting new ideas” to directly affect the San Diego area.

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