Leg. Council Votes to Divert SPFB Funding

A majority vote allows budget bill to take student programming money for use in large campus events.

 

Money was a major subject of contention at ASUCI’s Legislative Council meeting on Tuesday, May 7.

The dispute came to head over Legislation B48-12, which regarded the ASUCI Executive Board’s mid-year budget allocation proposal. The vote was tabled to Thursday, May 9, with an amendment that $17,000 would be extracted from SPFB instead of the originally proposed $25,001.83.

The bill passed with a 7 to 4 vote.

The purpose of the allocations, according to the legislation, was necessary in order to “balance the existing ASUCI budget and provide sufficient support for upcoming programs.”

In the proposed bill, various programs and student organizations around UC Irvine were to have a sum of money deducted from their accounts by the Executive Board to be utilized elsewhere.

However, several Legislative Council members voiced their disapproval and surprise at the legislation’s proposal to deduct $25,001.83 from ASUCI’S Student Program Funding Board (SPFB) alone.

“I’m not in support of this,” Summer Ko, the At-Large Representative, said. “Exec [sic] has known about their budget since they were elected, and this is poor financial planning on their part.”

SPFB manages and distributes ASUCI funding to all registered undergraduate organizations at UCI for campus-wide events and programming.

“It’s not fair for SPFB to be responsible for this when the people who are going to be affected by this are basically every organization on campus,” Ko said.

Student Services Vice President Jessica Phan was the author of this legislation. Her role at ASUCI is to program and oversee all student life and entertainment activities, which include events such as Welcome Week and Soulstice.

Though faced with opposition at the Legislative Council meeting, Phan maintained that the reallocation of the funds stated in the legislation proposal was necessary in order to clear deficits and to plan future programs.

“[SPFB] has a total of $37,000 in their account right now, and we’re taking $25,000,” Phan said. “We made sure that they had extra left over. It’s week 6 right now and if [clubs] haven’t applied for [financing] by now, they’re probably not going to apply later.”

When asked by Council members where the $25,000 was going, Phan responded that all of it would be put into funding for this year’s upcoming Reggaefest. Phan noted that the event was coming soon, and urged the Legislative Council that mid-year reallocations were crucial and should not be idled upon.

“This is a very time-sensitive case because Reggaefest is in less than a month, and I haven’t been able to send out any offers [to talent] because my accounts are frozen,” Phan said.

She noted that it usually takes about three months to find a secure talent for an event as big as Reggaefest, and with less than a month to go, it would be impossible to find any performers without the deficits from earlier in the year being balanced.

“Until this allocation is done, we can’t send any [offers] out,” Phan said. “Every day that passes is less and less time for us to be able to find someone [for Reggaefest].”

Reggaefest was brought up by some Council members to be a vital event for UCI, as it is open to both students and the public, and there was an agreement that the event needs as much funding as possible to ensure timely goals are met in order for attendees to have a good experience.

Despite this, various Council members including Ko continued to question whether or not it was right to take so much money when many student organizations relied largely on SPFB for their funding.

“SPFB should not be the main contributor to Reggaefest,” Ko said.

“SPFB allocates over $110,000 to registered campus organizations for their events. Other than funding boards, campus organizations’ other funding source is fundraising on Ring Road. I don’t think it’s fair that the bill is taking away from this vital source for the campus community.”

At-Large Representative Reza Zomorrodian agreed that while the $25,000 extraction from SPFB may be exorbitant to some, the Council as a whole has responsibility to keep promises and perform accordingly for the student body.

“I understand what people are saying,” Zomorrodian said. “But just because SPFB wasn’t living up to their expectations [in their allocation of funds] doesn’t mean you vote against something in Council that has nothing to do with SPFB’s expectations.”