After spending a year in student government, and being a critic of it for three, I’ve realized that outside of the Associated Students of UC Irvine niche, there are generally two major student opinions toward it. There is the apathetic student (‘I don’t know,’ ‘I have no opinion,’ ‘I don’t care.’) And there is the skeptical student (‘ASUCI sucks. They have sex in Las Vegas on our dime.’)
With recurring instances of political corruption highlighted in the news, it makes sense that the public’s trust for its government is deteriorating. As the public, we justifiably expect our elected officials to be accountable and ethical to the bodies they represent.
Here at UCI, the student government and administration are in constant conflict with the student body they represent over what it means to be accountable and ethical. Since these are massive issues with multiple facets, I would like to address one: the ethics of internal spending by ASUCI.
The spending practices and guidelines for ASUCI, and quite possibly the administration and UC system as a whole, must be revised in order to regain the trust and dignity that it has lost and continues to lose through individual instances of corruption and unnecessary spending.
Before going any further, I am ethically obligated to provide you with some figures so that you can see the bigger picture. First, the annual budget of ASUCI after revenue is approximately $1.3 million. About $1.2 million of this comes from student taxes as seen in your registration fees. The salaries of professional staff of ASUCI are roughly two-fifths of the total budget. There are also student stipends. Your executive officers get paid $500 per month, legislative council members and judicial board members receive $75 per month, and commissioners make anywhere from $50 to $200 a month.
After experiencing ASUCI, and doing a substantial amount of research on internal spending for the past two years, I have seen what I will divide into ‘unethical’ and ‘questionable’ spending patterns (all of which I have receipts to back up). I have listed dates and costs for four examples of each category in the chart shown. Notice I have not provided names or individual offices. Personal attacks are weak and easy and, more importantly, would detract from the larger issue.
While I have heard about other abnormalities, such as renting out the Hard Rock Caf