Students Drive Initiatives
Voting results show a student-led demand for services.
This year’s ASUCI Spring Elections resulted in a record turnout of over 30 percent of undergraduates voting at UC Irvine, ranking the highest among our campus’ history.
Of the three referendums on the ballot, students voted to pass two of them. The initiatives put forward by the Anteater Express and the New University passed, with each totaling nearly 70 percent of the majority votes. Although the Student Outreach and Retention Center (SOAR) did have a majority vote in favor, the measure failed to meet quorum.
The Anteater Express is in the process of gathering the student board that will be in control of allocating the funds, in accordance with the referendum’s language.
Students will be charged a quarterly fee of $8 per undergraduate student and the amount will double within the next five years. By the end of the five-year span, undergraduates will be charged an ongoing quarterly fee of $40 that will later be annually adjusted for inflation.
Ryan Gripp, the Associate Director of Operations for the Anteater Express, said that he was “incredibly relieved” the referendum passed.
“This has been a long time coming for Anteater Express,” Gripp, a UC Irvine alumnus, said. He has been involved with the program since 2002.
“What is interesting about Anteater Express is that it really is student driven, student input within the university, and this is exactly what you want to see in departments,” he said.
With the funding provided within the next year, a decision will be made to acquire new shuttles. As for the number of vehicles purchased, the student board will currently work toward an agenda by the end of this academic year.
“We will also be limited with the funds we receive,” Gripp said. “The board will have to reach out and implement the needs of the students accordingly.”
The SOAR center held a town hall meeting last Friday to discuss the discrepancies of “quorum has not been met,” as stated on the ASUCI Elections website.
When it was reported that the SOAR measure failed to meet quorum, Fernandez says that an outpour of support came from students. Nearly 40 students gathered Friday to address the different approaches of the issue to administration.
The SOAR center was established in fall 2011 and is primarily responsible for student-initiated programs in both the outreach and retention programs.
Graciela Fernandez, director of SOAR, said that it is important students are able to access and utilize the available resources.
“There is discrepancy in the way the quorum is being discussed,” she said.
SOAR was under the impression “that 25 percent of students had to vote, and of those that voted, between the ‘YES’ and the ‘NO’s, if the majority votes ‘YES’, then it passes. That is something that needs to be really clear.”
During the meeting, it was concluded that a UCI staff member accessed the elections website without consulting ASUCI members, and has taken full responsibility of the misleading content displayed. For future elections, a quorum number will not be provided on the ASUCI website.
“SOAR didn’t meet quorum because only ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ votes are counted toward the 25 percent number, and so that is the reason why SOAR didn’t pass,” John Delshadi, ASUCI Election Commissioner, said.
“The administration gave the SOAR center three year’s worth of funds because they believe in the work we can do here,” Fernandez said. “Right now, it’s a technicality that needs to be resolved. So far as we know, administration has been very supportive, and they are just waiting on the responses from the students.”
Based on guidelines from the Office of Chancellor, the ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ votes counted toward quorum. Each referendum had to satisfy its own level of quorum.
The Anteater Express and New University measures hit that level, but the SOAR measure fell short.
“That’s the determination of why the overall vote of why altogether the 30 percent number doesn’t represent each referendum individually because it is an issue of ASUCI interpreting the guidelines that govern per referendum and not the total overall vote,” Delshadi said.
If an appeal were to be processed, the Office of the Chancellor and any other high campus administration would have the ultimate decision over the guidelines governing referendum.
Within the following year, SOAR will continue offering services, with available funding provided for one year.
“We are on a very limited budget,” Fernandez said. “Because the center is open late, the funds are limited as well. The other drawback is we are only in our second year. We are in the developmental stage, and we are still identifying what students really need, with the limited resources, limited staff, these are the challenges.”
“I want every student to realize there are a lot of resources and people who are committed to making that happen,” Fernandez said. “It is a matter of connecting, but nobody should ever doubt that they can’t do it. We’re here to help.”