Voting Against ASUCI Initiatives

As hopefully all of you know by now, we had to vote on two ballot initiatives this election — the ASUCI Initiative and Anteater Express Initiative. There’s no doubt about the appeal of these two referendums; what’s not to like about a more robust campus life, or the retention of necessary transportation services? Furthermore, both initiatives had strong support from ASUCI.

However, when the votes counted, neither was able to pass. Perhaps by offering my thought process as I voted, all of us, especially our new ASUCI officers, can all gain some insight as to why these referendums, especially the ASUCI Initiative, failed to garner support around campus.

As a UC Irvine student, I had, and still have, no idea what ASUCI does with my money. I was aware of the various fees levied on me to support things like the Green Initiative Fund, the ARC and the more obscure “student spirit fee.” I also knew that I had recently been saddled with a brand new e-tech fee to support a service that had once been free. I know not all of these are associated with ASUCI, and I know almost all of them go towards paying for things that I enjoy, like the ARC. However, I wasn’t in the mood to be paying any more of my money without knowing what it was paying for. So I tried to find out more. A cursory search on the UCI website for “ASUCI budget” yielded a PowerPoint presentation on the 2011-2012 budget. What I saw were large budgets next to the names of ASUCI offices, and large slices of that budget pie devoted to the opaque categories of “internal” and “external affairs.” I also saw well-sized pie slices going to things I liked, like vendor fairs and Wayzgoose, but no further information on what exactly that money went towards.

By this point, I was getting skeptical about handing my money over to student government for their initiative. However, I figured ASUCI’s strong support for its own initiative would yield some good information around campus to tell me more. Unfortunately, all I saw were posters loudly proclaiming these referendums as a savior to student life and transportation, next to posters decrying “scumbag ASUCI” for promising to lower fees, then raising them. Needless to say, the information I had available to me wasn’t sufficient enough to make an informed vote; all I knew was a school body wanted even more of my money for purposes unclear to me.

This isn’t to say I don’t agree with the spirit of the initiative; I love this school and want to see everyone partaking in all it has to offer. Although I’m glad to put my money down towards that purpose on behalf of ASUCI, I’ll need more information. I already get a ton of listserv emails for student body events; why not use those avenues to disseminate information about what my student government is up to? Even better, why not send out a weekly email keeping us informed?

Like I said, I want to see my school succeed, and I’m wiling to vote “yes” on a good initiative and put my money down in support of it. However, I can’t do either of those things if the only information I have are unintelligible PowerPoint presentations and posters calling student government “scumbags.” As a result, I voted no on the ASUCI Initiative. Since almost 3,000 fellow Anteaters agreed with me, I couldn’t have been alone in my reasoning. And so, as our new ASUCI officers take their oaths of office, I hope they will take heed of what I and thousands of others like me were thinking, so that we can act together in building up our campus.

 

Nathan Directo is a fourth-year history and mechanical engineering major. He can be reached at directon@uci.edu.