Council Hears Referendum Proposals

Representatives from TGIF, New University and UCSA present their proposals for student funding.

Representatives from The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), the New University campus newspaper and University of California Student Association (UCSA) gave presentations to the ASUCI Legislative Council at their meeting on Tuesday, Jan 29.

Members of TGIF requested the Council to approve proposed amendments to the group’s By-Laws while the New University requested the Council’s approval for a proposed referendum to bring student funding to the paper for the spring elections. UCSA supported a request by ASUCI Executive Vice President Andrea Gaspar to give ASUCI funds to UCSA for their upcoming Student Lobby Conference in March.

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) is an environmentally focused organization that is part of ASUCI. The Fund was created in 2009 from a Student Referendum that gives the organization $3.50 per undergraduate student per quarter.

TGIF members proposed amending their By-Laws to set standardized pay for commissioners and to allow the group to function and make important decisions in the absence of a Marketing Commissioner, as the position is still open.

The presentation by TGIF in support of the By-Law changes was given by TGIF Sustainability Commissioner Katie Chansler and Accountant and Marketing Commissioner Alan Truong.

There were some members on the Council such as Biological Sciences Representative Kleishie Baisie who did not believe that the changes to TGIF’s By-Laws were necessary in order to gain a Marketing Commissioner.

“I don’t feel like you need to change your By-Laws to reflect a momentary hiring lapse, because I don’t feel like that’s going to encourage you to hire someone as soon as possible.” Baisie said.

At-Large Representative Reza Zomorrodian also voiced his opinion, believing that the By-Law amendment by TGIF is unnecessary.

“I think it’s a temporary fix and I just don’t see the point in temporarily fixing the By-Laws because there is a vacancy. The Council doesn’t temporarily fix the By-Laws because some of our seats are unfilled.”

After hearing the presentation and the debate among Council Members, the Council decided to postpone their decision regarding the TGIF amendments until their meeting next week after TGIF Representatives revise their proposal with the Council’s recommendations.

The New University also made a presentation for the Council for their petition. The New University presented a ballot for a Student Referendum that would charge 99 cents per undergraduate student for fall, winter and spring quarters. The presentation was made by Editor-in-Chief Jessica Pratt and Managing Editor Jun Im.

The presentation cited increased printing costs and falling advertisement revenues as reasons for the referendum request. Some of the questions raised by council members after addressed the issue of why the newspaper couldn’t ask the administration for funding, instead of students. The New University representatives rejected this idea, as  it would compromise the objectivity and neutrality of the paper.

After hearing the presentation, the Council decided to postpone voting on the matter, but will work with the New University staff on the referendum itself.

The University of California Student Association (UCSA) made their presentation to support Executive Vice-President Andrea Gaspar’s request to give funds from the Legislative Council for the Student Lobby Conference in Sacramento from March 1-4. The Presentation was made by UCSA Field Organizer Julian Martinez and UCSA Board Chair Kathryn (Katie) Messesan.

UCSA is a coalition of students and student governments whose aim is to increase accessibility to education in the UC system through student activism and lobbying elected representatives. The organization gets some funding from ASUCI and works with ASUCI in regard to lobbying efforts in Sacramento for education.

Messesan believes that ASUCI’s support of USCA is justified because of USCA’s efforts in lobbying for education and the successes the group had in the recent budget cuts.

“Because of the march and our lobbying efforts right after that, the proposed cuts that Gov. Brown made to the Cal Grant program last year was actually reduced … instead of getting a $350 million cut we got $103 million cut. This conference really shows the power that students can have with lobbying, with protesting, and also new skills in networking to make a difference in your university.”

Martinez also voiced his belief that it was vital for the Council to support UCSA’s lobbying efforts and that it will likely be successful in the near future.

“I would also like to include, now I feel that it’s more important than ever before to send students to the lobby conference because apart from registering so many students to vote, politicians are really listening to UCSA and to the student voice.” Martinez said.

The amount that Gaspar proposed ASUCI would give to USCA amounted to $1,000, but the Council decided to table the Legislation until later to discuss the proposal more in the future before deciding on it.