Members of the Cross-Cultural Center’s Umbrella Council are have accused the Associated Students of UC Irvine of changing external program funding guidelines without the consent of the affected student organizations.
‘ASUCI did not reach out to any student organizations to ask their opinions on what type of system would be most beneficial to them and best suit their needs,’ said Shannon Coskran, a fourth-year psychology and social behavior major and Cross-Cultural Center intern. ‘The organizations that did voice their opinions were disrespected and disregarded. This is entirely unacceptable. They are supposed to be working to represent the students.’
The legislation passed by ASUCI would change the process by which clubs and organizations apply for event funding. Rather than needing to submit funding requests in the spring quarter for events to be held the following year, organizations will now apply for funds year-round, on an event by event basis.
‘In the past, there were two ways you could get funding,’ said ASUCI President Carlos Feliciano. ‘You could apply at the end of the year and be considered for funding but make a certain deadline and have a proposal in by then. We [also] created a smaller group called Student Programming where students could go … but [they] had limited resources. The new legislation consolidates everything into one process. The student groups can access the big pot of money all year round.’
Although supporters of the new legislation say that this is an improvement because it will allow increased access to funds throughout the year, opponents worry that the new process will increase uncertainty about funding.
‘In the spring, people could plan and budget for their events and know how much funding they will get the year before,’ Coskran said. ‘[ASUCI] has a pot of money at that point in time that they can split up among the organizations that applied. With the new legislation, they are not going to be able to evenly distribute it. They don’t have an idea who is going to apply and at what point in time.’
However, according to Feliciano, the new legislation will give organizations more access to funding and create accountability.
‘If the student groups do not spend their money 30 days after the event, the money is put back in the programming board to be given out to other organizations,’ Feliciano said. ‘It makes clubs accountable to spend their money and do the event on time. This year, we gave out around $100,000 to clubs and organizations and $77,000 went unspent. In the old process when clubs do not utilize the full resources we give them, the money goes into our reserve account and cannot go to other groups.’
Umbrella Council members are not only upset at the content of the new legislation, but at the way in which it was drafted and approved.
‘[Feliciano] did not hold any formal meetings with campus organizations to discuss the positive and negative aspects of the new Student Programming Guidelines,’ said Rosa Erandi Zamora, a third-year political science major and an ex-officio member of ASUCI’s Legislative Council. ‘Rather, he drafted the policy [Resolution 41-69] behind closed doors without any input from the affected parties. Some campus organizations who were aware of the issue voiced their opposition to the changes.’
After Resolution 41-69 failed the first time it was presented to the ASUCI Legislative Council, Umbrella Council representatives requested to meet with Feliciano to draft a new piece of legislation that they hoped would fix the problems of the current allocation process while still addressing their concerns.
‘The result of that meeting was Resolution 41-79, which was introduced on April 25,’ Zamora said. ‘The Legislative Council refused to officially discuss on the basis that they didn’t like it. During that meeting, and after having co-authored Resolution 41-79, Feliciano stated his preference for his one-sided legislation without providing any justification for it.’
Resolution 41-79 also failed to receive the required two-thirds vote of the Legislative Council to pass. However, a motion to reintroduce the failed Resolution 41-69 resulted in its passage.
‘[Resolution 41-79] failed in committee … and then one of the people who voted against the original student programming policy changed his mind and called for a reconsideration,’ Feliciano said.
Feliciano denied any underhandedness in getting the bill passed, although members of the Umbrella Council say otherwise, alleging that the reintroduction of the bill happened after some concerned students had already left the meeting, thinking that the issue would not be resolved that week.
‘In the middle of the meeting, when a lot of the concerned parties had already left, Resolution 41-69, which had failed the previous week, was reintroduced and passed in a matter of minutes,’ Zamora said. ‘[ASUCI] is constitutionally allowed to introduce legislation in the middle of a meeting, but it is clearly unethical to do it with the purpose of evading those who you are elected to represent.’