By Bryan Kappe
This year, we Gauchos face daunting tuition fees, crowded classes, the swine flu, and the omnipresent stress and hardships that come with college life. However, there is a group here at UCSB committed to supporting and enhancing the Gaucho experience: Associated Students is here for all of us. Associated Students, more commonly known as A.S., is the mechanism behind the phenomenal concerts, fun events and free movies that we all enjoy. This is the group that oversees an abundance of on-campus organizations that help keep not only our campus but also our community fun, safe, and green. A.S. is partly funded by our tuition and it is up to us to shape its future and maximize its potential. It is up to us to utilize this amazing resource. It is up to us to get involved.
Whether you are looking for experience in the entertainment industry through the program board or want to be part of the many environmental programs such as the Environmental Affairs Board (EAB), the Coastal Fund, and the A.S. recycling program, A.S. has a wide range of opportunities for all students. There is a diverse selection of programs and events funded by A.S. that createsincredible experiences for students while serving the community as a whole at the same time.
The current academic year is just beginning and most of us have likely settled into our living situations, become familiar with our classes, and finished up our first midterms. This is the perfect time of the year to look into becoming an active part of our school and community. There are plenty of ways to get involved, whether it is simply signing a petition, going to an event, or attending a meeting and becoming a part of one of the many on-campus organizations.
By going to the A.S. website (www.as.ucsb.edu), you can also apply to be on the committee for any organization you are interested in. Even if there is no current organization that interests you, there is a process you can take to create your own student group. As articulated in the Associated Students 2007-2008 annual report, there is an easy process for obtaining funding for eligible student groups. First, student groups must be registered through the Office of Student Life (OSL) in order to be considered eligible. An eligible student group can then obtain an A.S. Budget Packet in the A.S. Finance Board office. Once a packet is turned in, representatives of the group must attend a budget hearing.
At the hearing, which takes place at the Office of the Finance Board, the groups’ representatives present their group’s budget and answer questions from committee members. After the hearings, the Finance Board meets and decides on a proper recommendation to the A.S. president. As Alexandra Olney, chair of Committee on Committees states, “It’s a little more paperwork than you would like, but it’s really not that hard.” Getting involved is easy and can be a great experience. A.S. gives you the opportunity to make this campus a better place.
So what drives A.S.? Why do they work so hard to entertain us? To give us opportunities? To give us experience that can help us in our future? “It’s passion,” explains Olney. “The students who run programs here are extremely passionate, and they are hoping to pass on that passion to other students.” You can feel it in the A.S. office. Just walking in there, you are bombarded with petitions to sign and causes to support. A.S. shows us that this campus is not just about lectures and exams. It is an interactive community in which we can truly find our passions. It is an active body of some of the brightest youths in this nation, who will play a role in shaping the future of the world.
This year, A.S. organizations are making big plans. Over the years, A.S. has increasingly become a force in environmental advocacy with energetic, bright students that are discovering their power to effect change. EAB’s co-chair Nick Allen states, “This year, EAB is seeking to expand its scope to attract individuals who would not normally associate themselves with the environmental movement.” The EAB is putting an emphasis on “spreading awareness about environmental inequities as they relate to human and social rights” and “training leaders in the rapidly expanding fields of green business and technology.” The EAB’s progressiveness is not unmatched within the many A.S. organizations that are ran by passionate students looking to make a difference.
This year, while the state neglects our value and cuts our funding, it is time to get our money’s worth. We account for the majority of A.S.’s funding, so this year let’s have some fun, create some changes, and make our mark. Now, more than ever, it is time to get involved. It is time to show this community, this state, and this world what we Gauchos are capable of.