ASUCI Holds Press Conference
ASUCI held a press conference on April 12 to inform the UCI community about Proposition 420, the Student Outreach Activities Referendum. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the objective of the referendum, while encouraging students to vote in the upcoming elections.
If passed, the SOAR initiative would reinstate student outreach programs that would be potentially eradicated by proposed UC-wide budget cuts by increasing student fees by $3 each quarter, a total of $9 more in student fees each academic year.
The revenue generated by the increased tuition would then be allocated to a student outreach activities committee. After various on-campus clubs and organizations have submitted proposals for specific outreach programs, the committee would then distribute the funds to the programs that it approves of.
For programs to be approved, among other requirements, they must be geared toward high school juniors and seniors and must contribute to increasing the academic achievement and development of educationally disadvantaged students.
The student outreach activities committee would be comprised of representatives from each of the five Cross-Cultural Center umbrella organizations, including MEChA, the Afrikan Student Union, Kababayan, American Indian Student Association and Asian Pacific Student Association, and representatives from other organizations as well.
The press conference opened with an introduction by ASUCI President Sammi Shaaya, who asked students to vote ‘ye’s on the proposition and expressed the necessity for student outreach programs to remain at UCI.
Shaaya’s statement was followed by a presentation regarding the creation of the referendum by Outreach Director Melissa Peralta and Kristi Solomon, the ASUCI Commissioner for Academic Affairs, both of whom are members of the SOAR coalition.
Solomon first spoke about the design of the referendum.
‘The referendum is modeled, not completely, but partially off of a similar one that was passed at UC Santa Cruz,’ Solomon said.
Peralta continued by discussing how the referendum and the proposition have evolved.
‘The coalition began to work to pass Proposition 420 during winter quarter,’ Peralta said.
ASUCI Executive Vice President Christina Gagnier was the final speaker at the press conference, explained that in order for Proposition 420 to pass and the extra fees to take effect, 25 percent of undergraduate students must cast a vote for the issue and 60 percent must vote yes.
According to Gagnier, if passed, the initiative would generate $108,000 in revenue for student initiated outreach.
In addition, Gagnier said that passing Proposition 420 could accommodate clubs interested in providing outreach to underpriviledged students and also encourage other clubs to create outreach programs of their own.
As is common with fee-related issues, student reactions to the press conference and how they plan to vote on Proposition 420 were mixed.
‘I would vote ‘yes,” said Kimberly Pham, a second-year social ecology major. ‘They have already raised our fees so an extra $9 would not hurt.’
While some shared Pham’s views, others were unsure of the mandatory nature of the fee increase associated with the SOAR initiative.
‘I would vote ‘yes’ because I know outreach programs are important,’ said Annie Rodriquez, a second-year environmental analysis and design major. ‘However, it would probably be more effective if the fee were optional, like pledging for CALPIRG.’
At the opposite end of the spectrum, however, some students who were less than enthusiastic about the idea of another fee increase.
‘I would vote ‘no’ because tuition is already much higher than it was when I started here,’ said Aaron Angeles, a second-year environmental analysis and design major. ‘Also, students are already having a tough time paying for their own education, much less outreach for others.’
Voting on Proposition 420 as well as for ASUCI candidates will take place this week.