1/21 A.S. Council

1/21 A.S. Council

And the roll call signaled the start of another, laborious night in the world of A.S. Council. The order of business contained nine attachments. Based on my experience with A.S., tonight is going to be another long night for council members — and all of those individuals who are plagued with a responsibility to stay here and wait for a scoop. I doubt the legislative changes will be made in a timely fashion so good luck everyone! I’m looking forward to the debate. Always so very thrilling, until it gets pointless, which it always does. And it keeps going. And going.

Public input included community members who voiced their concerns about the Che Cafe not being included in the UCAB referendum. Then students from the Student Affirmative Action Committee and SPACES came up and spoke up about how exclusive the proposed amendments to raise the spending cap in A.S. elections by 250 percent were. If you read last week’s column you know how I feel about the issue.

It is incredibly disheartening to consider having to come to terms with the fact that a large part of the student body will not be able to participate in the election process; especially at a public institution which students choose to attend to save money, not to feel pressured to spend their grocery or rent money to exercise their rights. Regardless of where you stand politically, this is unfair. As cliche as it sounds, we are the future of America. Do we really want to continue perpetuating the discriminatory and unjust electoral practices that were instituted in the “real world” way before we came to be? Why not attempt to change this system? The change begins here, in A.S. Council. Now that’s enough cheesiness and sentimentality for tonight. For the time being anyway.

Next, there was a special presentation from the UCSD Sports Facilities Department. During the presentation, it was announced that Triton Ball Park will open in late March or early April. Also, synthetic turf will replace the majority of the grass in Muir Field. This will save upwards of 1 million gallons of potable water each year beginning in Fall 2015 when the project is expected to be completed. In addition, an athlete-exclusive performance center is underway which will likely minimize the crowding at RIMAC since athletes will have a designated hotspot to work out. Furthermore, the construction of a permanent, exterior stage outside of RIMAC has been approved and the funds have been allocated. So no more parking lot practices for the various dance groups on campus.

A while later, during a moderated caucus, the Che Feasibility Report from University Centers was read aloud. After some discussion, it appears that regardless of where the estimates come from, the costs of repairing the Che Cafe are very high. However, AVP EJA Sierra Donaldson pointed out that neither members of the Che Cafe nor members of the Ad Hoc Committee were notified of the walkthroughs that the University took through the facility. She also mentioned that it is unfair to blanket all of the issues with the facility and how basically the University presents something and A.S. Council can only react to it, as well as the fact that there isn’t enough transparency.

Donaldson’s statement was countered by a statement from AVP Student Services Mehyar about not facing the inevitable fate of the Che Cafe which A.S. Council is apparently “chasing down a rabbit hole.”

Whether or not the Che Cafe can be saved in a fiscally responsible manner, it is a historic institution that has impacted, and continues to impact students, alumni and members of the San Diego Community in a personally significant manner. We cannot forget that when we discuss the issue.

During the Report of Members, President Robby Boparai announced that his office will be hosting sundry education programs, including sexual assault prevention and safe drug use. Also, the Food Pantry will be opening the first Thursday in February. The rest of the offices gave reports on what their offices are doing, after which Sixth Senator Angie Saavedra suggested putting all of the events on a Google Doc so we can keep track of them. That is an awesome idea! Please share me on the doc if you all decide to make it. [email protected].

After the approval of motions made by VP Finance Igor Geyn, the meeting moved to legislative committee and the plethora of proposed amendments on tonight’s agenda. AVP Local Affairs Firoozi moved to limit the number of times council members can speak to three times for each legislative item. 16–8–1 it passes! Yay! This should save time. The meeting adjourned a little before midnight so it still ended up lasting about six hours, which is roughly four sleep cycles.

The first legislative item was the amendment to make the position of VP Finance and Resources a non-voting, appointed position which passed by a vote of 20–1–0.

Next on the list was the amendment to take Commission Representatives to the Associated Students off of A.S. Council. In typical A.S. fashion, the amendment was tabled for one week after a nice, extended debate session that involved snarky comments, good points, bad points; you know the drill.

Now onto the amendment about spending caps. The amendment was introduced to reduce the maximum amount an individual student can contribute to campaigns down from $25 to $10.

AVP College Affairs Miller and Boparai proposed some reasonable amendments, such as allowing fellow slate members to reallocate their funds to those running who need the funds. Also, there was the idea of creating a stipended position to encourage students to vote rather than increasing the spending cap. Miller emphasized staying away from outside donations.

Sixth Senator Lukasheva brought up a valid point in that increasing the spending cap by 250 percent or getting rid of it altogether opens up a Pandora’s Box of problems (my words, not hers), ranging from when you start collecting donations, if one slate raises more money, fairness, etc.

So yeah after kind of a long time — I really don’t have the energy to think up creative ways of saying a long time — and a lot of debate and a ton of different modifications and re-modifications, the amended amendment passes 17–5–5. The spending cap was raised to $2,300, which can come from family members, student contributions and candidates. Glad a decent compromise was made. No solution is perfect but at least Council decided on something that is relatively fair and addresses multiple concerns.

Just want to point out that, as much as attending these meetings is a drag, there are occasional moments that make me proud to be a constituent of this Council. Not always, if you haven’t noticed, but sometimes. Particularly when council members genuinely seek the most practical, equitable resolutions regardless of the political implications of an issue.

Eventually, the meeting ended. I could’ve left after the vote but the discussion afterwards was pretty entertaining. The meeting ended on a jolly note, with A.S. Council singing “Happy Birthday” to Heather Belk, the A.S. Director. Happy birthday, Heather!

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