One particularly contentious amendment proposed by A.S. Council would change the VP of Finance and Resources into a non-voting, appointed finance controller position. The reasoning behind this was ostensibly to ensure that a qualified candidate, interviewed and selected by both incoming and outgoing council members, would take the helm without being influenced by slate politics or voter follies. Although a similar proposal was shot down last year, the change would bring A.S. Council in line with councils at several other UC campuses.
The VP of Finance has historically remained neutral in most Council debates, and the loss of voting power shouldn’t raise too many alarms. Regarding the case for appointments over elections, A.S. Council might be making a necessary decision. It is no stranger to budget crises, and, after numerous shortfalls and mismanagement in recent years, it’s admirable to see that Council is now taking steps to place someone with the necessary credentials to allocate and safeguard a multimillion dollar budget into such an important position. Merit, rather than personality, should always take priority. It will also be interesting to see how effective this amendment will be at insulating the candidate from political agendas.
More concerning, however, is how the new finance controller would remain transparent and accountable to the student body if this amendment passes. This change will arguably strip away what little exposure the position has to the student body — a stark contrast to the other candidates’ flashy campaigning during election season. If you want to see the implications, simply look to the associated vice presidents, all of whom are appointed after elections. They head important offices and services that directly affect UCSD students, yet despite their best efforts, one would be hard-pressed to find a student outside of A.S. Council who could name a significant number of AVPs, much less their duties, qualifications and goals for the year.
Given the finance controller’s immense power of the purse, he or she of all people must be someone the undergraduate population knows and trusts. The idea that we still indirectly select the finance controller — since voted officials appoint the eventual nominee — is laughable. Changing the VP of Finance to an appointed position might really be the best course of action, but, even so, the finance controller will have to put in the extra effort to make him or herself accessible to the public. So long as students feel excluded from A.S. Council affairs, they will continually remain apathetic at the polls. Council might be big, it might be unwieldy, but student voices are the one asset it cannot afford to cut. Ultimately, it’s now left to the students to decide how best to proceed with this amendment come April.