My Student Life Initiative

The Student Services Referendum, better known as “My Student Life Initiative” was created in order to improve the quality of student life funding at UC Irvine due to the recent budget cuts. Many students are concerned with cutbacks, particularly in regards to ASUCI services such as concerts, university leadership conference, Anteater Awards, Greek life, club funding through the Student Programming Funding Board (SPFB), Martin Luther King symposium, speaker series and teacher luncheons.

The referendum encompasses two parts, the Anteater Express Initiative and the ASUCI initiative. Both of these initiatives have to do with the  “funding for shuttles, student advocacy, concerts, club funding and various other ASUCI services.”

The current AS quarterly fee is $18, with the annual fee at $54. The average Associate Student Fee is $96.34 across all UC schools. UC Irvine’s Associated Student Fee is toward the bottom with almost being one of the lowest incomes as compared to other schools.

With the initiative, the anticipated plan of action is to propose a $5 increase over the next four years. By 2016, there will be a $20 increase. Many schools pay higher A.S. fees, such as UCSB which currently pays $87.97, $69.97 more than what UCI students pay.

If the ASUCI Initiative passes, there will be a significant “increase in funding for campus organizations, provide more advocacy and student power, with bigger and better artists at concerts.”

The purpose of the Anteater Express Initiative is to maintain the current routes such as the Newport Route and Parkwest Route. The proposed plan is to allow for a $24 increase, which is broken into three $8 increments over the next three years.

If the initiative does not pass, then routes such as these will most likely be canceled, which will create more problems for parking on campus. Essentially, with cutbacks from the budget on these services, it is hard to maintain the current services. With more funding, there will be endless possibilities to make student voices heard, as Anteater Express will create a board taking into consideration student voices on deciding where new routes will be made and how the initiative funds will be spent.

If the referendum is passed, consequently, there will be a significant increase in the quality of student life at UCI.  The fee increase will substantially benefit the students, as there is more funding allocated for student life events. With possibilities such as more concerts, wider variety of performing artists/speakers, and more funding for clubs and organizations, there will be more opportunities for Anteaters to get involved.

Students will directly see the benefits of the referendum across a wide array of events including concerts, Greek life, rallies and sports games that are all funded by ASUCI as they are directly in charge of putting on events such as Shocktoberfest and Reggaefest.  With this in mind, ASUCI has goals of ensuring that students do in fact get what they pay for.  And in turn, there will be a better student experience with a wide variety of artists, events and activities to choose from.

Within the last year, the UC’s tuition increased by 9.6 percent, but the A.S. fee has remained $18 per quarter within the past 15 years.  The $5 increase to the A.S. fee will not make a huge impact on tuition, but rather in fact, will leave a huge impact on student life. Furthermore, students will be able to see what their money will be going toward directly.

Moreover, in line with the campus policy, there is another financial benefit of this referendum for those who are eligible for financial aid.  From the fee increase, 33 percent of it will be returned to financial aid in order to counteract the cost of this fee for students. Additionally, the fee does not apply during the summer sessions as it will not be assessed.

Starting in the academic year of fall 2012-2013, $1 of this fee will go directly toward the University of California Student Association will promote “accessibility, affordability and quality of the UC system.”

With endless possibilities, the student life referendum will boost school spirit with rallies, concerts with more mainstream artists, speakers and funding more clubs to put on more events. With more funding, ASUCI can create a better experience for the students without a significant Associated Student fee that many other schools have.

 

Ruhani Sandhu is a second-year public health science major. She can be reached at rksandhu@uci.edu.