ASUCI Executives Tell All in Revealing Forum

ASUCI Executives participated in a public “Tell All Forum” on Dec. 5 in an effort to answer questions from students and to promote transparency. ASUCI President Nicole Hisatomi, Executive Vice President Melissa Gamble, Vice President of Administrative Affairs Tony Tizcareno, and Vice President of Academic Affairs Skyla Zhang were present to answer questions and engage in conversation about the student government. Vice President of Student Services Dominique Doan was unable to attend due to his class schedule, however, other executives were able to answer questions about Student Services in his stead.

The executives opened the forum by introducing themselves and describing the kind of work that each of their offices do, after which they briefly reviewed the programs their departments put on during fall quarter. Students in attendance were then allowed to ask questions and make suggestions to the ASUCI representatives. Topics such as the Anteater Express, Shocktoberfest, and budgets were popular points of discussion throughout the event. Each exec took time to address questions directed toward their offices and give a preview of what they are planning for winter and spring quarters.

Vice President of Administrative Affairs Tony Tizcareno responded to several questions about the Anteater Express and the Bus Love Initiative. Tizcareno provided an update on the formation of the student-run Anteater Express Board allocated under the Bus Love initiative. As of week 10 fall quarter, all but one of the seats on the board were filled and prepared to meet within the first two weeks of winter quarter. The board is set to oversee funding for the shuttles within the Anteater Express’ budget including income from the Bus Love Initiative. The board for this year will decide how next year’s funds will be allocated, facing questions including whether or not to continue funding specific routes, deciding which routes need more funding, and whether or not to buy new buses. Tizcareno and Hisatomi spoke about recent struggle to keep Anteater Express’ budget under ASUCI after attempts by administration to absorb the budget under their control.

“We have taken a very strong stance that we refuse to let it go, when we let things go in the past like the Bren, the ARC, and the Student Center, we lost complete control over it and the shuttle is not something we want to see leave student government,” Tizcareno said.

Earlier in the quarter, Legislative Council passed R49-38, 39, and 40 to maintain control over the Anteater Express account. R49-40 stated “Let it be resolved that, any parts of ASUCI budgets, including but not limited to, Anteater Express, Referendums, Vendor Fair, must remain within ASUCI accounts.”

Tizcareno also mentioned that ASUCI will be hosting a forum regarding Anteater Express on Jan. 15. He also answered questions about several committees set up under the Administrative Affairs office with UC Irvine housing, dining and parking. These committees were created in an effort to increase student input in these three sectors affecting student life. Tizcareno stated that his office has set up regular meetings with housing and will be given more information on the housing budget and prospective construction in Mesa Court to pass down to students. The committee working with UCI dining is set to address the quality and sustainability of food served on campus. The parking committee is currently working toward trying to set up regular meetings with the parking department and increasing transparency with regards to the parking budget. Currently, the only parking budget publically available is on parking website and does not add up to 100 percent but instead adds up to 101 percent.

Another issue widely discussed at the forum was Shocktoberfest. Students present asked several questions regarding the concert concerning the late reveal of the lineup, ticket prices, and survey results regarding Shocktoberfest. The executives present clarified why it took so long to announce the artists performing at Shocktoberfest. They explained that the performers were selected in the summer after narrowing it down to what artists were in their price range and available on the day of the event. After securing who would play at the concert, the contracts needed to be signed by the administration, however, they did not agree to sign right away. After several conversations with ASUCI leaders, administration finally decided to sign the contracts on Friday of week two, seven days before the event. ASUCI then had to wait for the artists to sign their portion of the contract before releasing the line-up.

As for the price of the event, execs handling these questions referred to a survey distributed last year, which reportedly stated that 85 percent of respondents were willing to pay for the concert. Upon asking to elaborate on the survey and how it was conducted, Hisatomi explained that it was distributed through the Office of Student Affairs, however, there was a malfunction when it was sent out, resulting in only students enrolled in summer school receiving the survey.

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Skyla Zhang answered questions about what her office plans on accomplishing for the upcoming quarters. Zhang cited a plethora of events including a speaker series with the School of Physical Sciences centered on the popular CBS comedy “Big Bang Theory.” The speaker series is expected to explain scientific concepts addressed in the show. Additionally, her office will hold a debate on Obamacare featuring professors from several academic disciplines. Zhang also announced a speaking event based off the online class offered about AMC’s Walking Dead, which will serve as a crash course featuring the class’ professors. Additionally, Zhang spoke about developing an honor code for UCI that everyone in the UCI community would adhere to and the possibility of opening up an online marketplace for UCI students to sell their class materials.

Executive Vice President, Melissa Gamble outlined her office’s plans for winter quarter, citing multiple involvements with UCSA (University of California Student Association) and the national USSA (United States Student Association). The EVP office will support several UCSA campaigns, including IGNITE (Invest in Graduation, Not Incarceration, Transform Education). The IGNITE campaign seeks to address diversity issues throughout the university system, including the disparities between undergraduate and graduate student levels. IGNITE also focuses on the school to prison pipeline, addressing the different institutional systems that keep low income students and students of color out of higher education. Gamble’s office plans on working in conjunction with UCSA supported events for the IGNITE campaign this quarter. The EVP office will also send several students to USSA’s National Grassroots Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. Gamble added that her office will continue to support workers unions on campus including the UAW with the help of the labor branch of the EVP office.

President Nicole Hisatomi took questions about what programs her office plans on hosting this year. Histomi said that her office is continuing to work on the “Language is Powerful” campaign, hosting several workshops in housing communities and the Greek community. In addition to outreach about offensive and hurtful language with the “Language is Powerful” campaign, Hisatomi announced that her office will spearhead a campaign centered on educating the UCI community about privilege. Additionally, the Office of the President will continue to host ArtLab this quarter and the Presidents Roundtable, where leaders from different student organizations on campus can meet together and discuss campus issues.

The executives were also asked about the ASUCI budget and its availability online, since an updated version had not been posted. As of the beginning of the year, the budget on the ASUCI website remains outdated. They were also asked about the possibility of developing a 24 hour study space, since the campus currently does not have one. Zhang and Tizcareno spoke about the different complications involving having a 24 hour study space, however, they mentioned that the Hillside Lounge might agree to opening for 24 hours, though it is not sure what weeks it will be open or if the deal is finalized.

ASUCI will hold another open house in an effort to promote transparency, several offices will be boothing throughout the quarter on Ring Road. All ASUCI executives and offices can be reached via their contact information on the ASUCI website.