Inefficient, ineffective and underfunded. Those are all words that come to mind when I think about the current state of the A.S. Council. The A.S. Council that we look to for leadership and solutions — or at least should look to — is no longer capable of delivering on those promises. It’s time for this council to fix that.
It’s no one’s fault. It would be way more fun to point at one current or past member of A.S. Council (or, even better, an administrator) and say “This is all your doing!” But that’s just not the case. It has taken a long time to get us to where we are, and it will take us a long time to get us to where we need to be.
As with all things, it comes down to the money. The A.S. Council brings in somewhere between $3 million and $4 million every year. Hundreds of thousands of dollars go to administrative costs, and $500,000 or more goes to the Sun God Festival. The rest is divided between A.S. offices and projects and student organization funding. What’s left is pocket change compared to what councils at other UC schools have at their disposal. The reality is that A.S. Council has outgrown its income. We simply do not have the money to do all the things we want to do anymore. Our reserves are empty, and just last year we ran out of money to fund student organizations months before the end of the year. In an age of skyrocketing tuition and constant pleas for money from a myriad of campus organizations, convincing students that A.S. Council is worth spending more money on is a tall order. That being said, A.S. Council cannot afford to postpone a referendum to raise student fees. There will never be a “good” time to do it, so let’s just get it over with.
Now, I’m not conservative by any measure, so what I have to say next pains me on a fundamental level. The A.S. Council is a bloated government. There are just too many people representing too many interests on for there to be any hope of efficient governance. If A.S. Council wants to get serious about streamlining, it’s time to look at what council positions can be cut because there are too many cooks in this proverbial kitchen. I don’t care how you do it — and I’m sure most UCSD students don’t either — but it’s time to find a way to pare down A.S. Council.
At its best, I believe A.S. Council is a force to be a reckoned with. Our student government should be a group any student can turn to for help, especially as our administration grows increasingly brazen in its attempts to quiet student expression. But until A.S. Council finds a way to make itself more efficient and more effect, that just isn’t going to happen.