Initiative Struck Down in Legislative Council

Efforts to push for Greek representation in SPFB meets failure, but interested parties remain persistent.

The ASUCI Legislative Council struck down a legislation that would have given a permanent seat to UCI’s Greek Community on ASUCI’s Student Program Funding Board (SPFB) at their meeting on Thursday, April 18. The legislation was voted down with a final vote of one in favor and eight in opposition, with three abstaining despite support from fraternity and sorority members who attended the meeting.

Legislation R48-57 called for adding a seat on SPFB for a delegate from UCI’s Greek community. At-Large Representative Reza Zomorrodian authored and proposed the legislation because he thought that the Greek community was underrepresented on the Board.

“I think the main reason why I authored the legislation was that I saw a community on campus that represents a huge population of the student body. So I felt that it was a community that was not being well represented in SBFB in regard to their population size,” Zomorrodian said.

UCI’s fraternity and sorority population accounts for about 10 percent of all UCI Undergraduates. However, other Council members, such as At-Large Representative Summer Ko, did not feel it was necessary to add a seat on the board exclusively for UCI’s Greek community.

“Well, we’re not saying that Greeks can’t apply for SPFB funding, we’re just saying that there doesn’t need to be a mandate that you need to create a Greek representative for SBSP because they can still apply,” Ko said.

SPFB is the board that is responsible for allocating ASUCI funds to undergraduate student organizations that put on programs for the public on campus. Currently, SPFB has nine board members, with three being At-Large members who represent the entire UCI Undergraduate population, one being a representative from the Cross Cultural Center and the other five from ASUCI.

SPFB gives funding to many organizations, including those that have few other means of funding themselves. For this particular reason, Social Science Representative Sabreen Shalabi opposed the legislation while defending the Cross Cultural Center representative’s position on SPFB, since fraternities and sororities require dues from their members while the Cross Cultural Center does not.

“The Cross (Cultural) community and the LGBT community is open to everybody. There are no dues to be a part of the Cross, there is no rush week to be a part of the cross or the LGBT Center. That way, they don’t get those sources of funding that the Greek system has,” Shalabi said.

Other Council members such as Biological Sciences Representative and SPFB member Kleshie Baisie argued that the Greek system is too exclusive.

“As a member of SPFB, we have had numerous Greek organizations come in and ask us for funding and a lot of times we do not give them funding because they say ‘Oh yeah, we’re inclusive,’ but they’re not,” Baisie said.

Some members of the audience felt that the Greek system was unfairly targeted by Council members before the vote. One of them was current SPFB chairman Dominique Doan, who argued to the Council that fraternities and sororities should be allowed to be represented on SPFB.

“Though Greek communities and IFC sororities may be restrictive, they have to follow UCI Student Life and Leadership policies of non-discrimination and community principles and such,” Doan said.

After the vote was taken, many in the audience voiced their disapproval, including the former social chair of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, Vincent Xu. Xu felt that the Council members were wrong to assume that the Greek system is exclusive and instead believes it is inclusive toward others at UCI.

“A lot of people were talking about how we are exclusive, and I feel like they are making assumptions and a lot of events that we host, like Songfest, that they stated, we want as many people to come to as possible,” Xu said.

Despite the striking down of his legislation, Zomorrodian will continue to push for getting a Greek Representative on SPFB and plans on bringing up the issue again sometime in the future.

“I want to talk to Council members who were avidly against this and try to engage in that discussion and talk to the councils for the Greek community. But I really think this is an issue that I’m not going to let die, I’m going to try as hard as I can to equalize representation for everyone on that board.”