1/13 A.S. Council

Disclaimer: The weekly A.S. Council column is not meant to be a news story but rather an individualized account of what occurs at Council meetings. If the most interesting part of a three-hour meeting is President Suvonnasupa’s haircut or an outburst from Senator O’Neill, the writer has the stylistic freedom to mention that in his column.

I jumped the gun last week. I told you that Council would be discussing the potential transition to Division I tonight, but Council Speaker Jason Grimm couldn’t make it to the meeting tonight. Instead, Associate Vice President of Concerts and Events Christian Walker acted as interim speaker and the Division-I issue was put off, only to be discussed during public input. The first piece of public input, however, came from a member of CALPIRG, who briefly talked about some of CALPIRG’s campaigns, including their mission to lower textbook costs and their housing insecurity campaign. More details on these initiatives can be found in last week’s A.S. Council column. Next, Sydney Burger came to inform the Council about Alpha Phi, the newest Greek sorority on campus. I can barely remember the names of three sororities, but this is exciting news.

The first case of public input regarding Division I came from Danny Glascock and Colleen Daley. Glascock talked about how transitioning to Division I would be a great opportunity to build up UCSD’s name recognition and gain respect of the university. Daley mentioned that going Division I would strengthen the alumni connections to the university as well as strengthen the connection among undergraduate students. Next, Teddy Newton and Joey Tomkins, neither of whom are athletes, pushed for going Division I. They explained that the move would bring UCSD more publicity and money, as well as bring students and alumni together. Last, Mo and Christina, both of whom are involved in Greek life, argued in favor of going Division I and explained that not doing so the factor holding UCSD back from competing with schools like UCLA and Berkeley.

If you have been following campus politics since last year, you’ll be excited (or perhaps the opposite) to know who came back to give a Special Presentation tonight. It was none other than previous A.S. President Robby Boparai, giving a presentation regarding the human rights violations in Punjab. This did, however, seem a lot more like a history lesson than the usual presentations given at Council meetings. Boporai explained the history of Sikhism in India and clarified misconceptions about the little known, yet widespread religion. The presentation culminated with examples of the human rights violations taken by the Indian government against the Sikh faith, including a coordinated attack on the Golden Temple. He also talked about government sanctioned murder and oppression of Sikhs. Boporai presentation was the longest special presentation that both my editor and I have ever sat through, receiving three time extensions and almost a fourth before Councilmembers started to object. As Boporai was changing slides, DJ Khalid’s famous words “another one … and another one … and another one” came to mind. The presentation ended up being as long as one of my lectures today. Boporai and a group of students will give a full length, two-hour lecture on campus soon.

The next special presentation was given by AVP of Student Organizations Jeremy Snyder, who manages the Triton Food Pantry and is the Vice Chair of the Food Insecurity Committee. Snyder gave many statistics regarding food insecurity, including that 23 percent of UCSD students reported skipping meals because of financial reasons in 2012. In 2014, that became 27 percent. The Food Insecurity Committee will have a budget of $29,000 next year, down from the $115,000 budget this year. This represents a huge drop, and Snyder explains that the small budget won’t be enough. The Food Pantry is used by students who experience food insecurity, and over 250 students have visited the Food Pantry in the last 12 weeks. The Food Pantry also ordered a food cart which should be ready in three weeks. Snyder urged fellow Council members to help out by volunteering at the Food Pantry or joining the Food Insecurity Committee.

“Our council factor of the week is … Taylor Hunter!” Unfortunately, they didn’t even play a song this time. But that wasn’t the most contentious issue of the night. The main point of contention at tonight’s Council meeting came during reports of Committees. The Council considered adding a new position, AVP of Health and Wellness. President Suvonnasupa explained that funding that was previously used to fund media organizations, approximately $5,000, could be used for this new office. Other Council members, like Campus-wide Senator Ryan Perez, were concerned that the money was only recently freed up and the council is already planning to use it. Many Council members, such as Transfer Senator Justin Pennish, argue that because the office deals with health and safety of UCSD students, it should be considered a priority. Pennish also argued that if using media funding was an issue, funding could be pulled from other offices. In the end, the motion passed almost unanimously. Only Senator Roger O’Neill voted no.

Toward the end of the meeting, President Suvonnasupa presented a tentative transition schedule to the Council, which outlined the election and important dates during the transition process. The date that stuck out to me was the Council meeting scheduled for Week 8 of Spring quarter. As it marks the end of the transition process, the old council is scheduled to get drunk. While President Suvonnasupa explained that this would not be the case, I urge Council to adopt this aspect of the tentative schedule