AS Executive Officers
Throughout every elections cycle that occurs at UCSB, students are inundated with an immense amount of information. While standing in support of healthy dialogue as a learning process, we as the 2012-2013 AS Executive Officers have chosen to submit comment with respect to AS matters in pursuit of providing correct information to students. What follows will include responses to assertions made regarding the capacities of AS process and personnel, our sharing of concerns that we have been obligated to address together this year, and for the first time in AS history a collective endorsement across party lines, of the Presidential candidate, we believe most qualified to continue addressing such concerns as we have been compelled to vocalize amongst a sea of rhetoric.
When it comes to student fees and the money students put into the university, fees paid quarterly to Associated Students are NOT part of the academic tuition you pay quarterly. AS fees are directed to AS, includes services across a wide spectrum, while tuition is directed to the University of California. Therefore, a reduction in “student fees” (fees that go to AS) does not constitute a reduction in tuition – it in fact reduces the availability of services. The ONLY time fees can be reclaimed is when an individual deems that a specific AS-sponsored activity has contradicted the individual’s ideological/political/religious beliefs, and the individual completes the paperwork necessary to reclaim the fees he or she contributed to that specific activity, per Smith v. Regents. The amount of return an individual may receive rarely exceeds 6 cents historically, and is usually designated based on specific events. The notion of returning “unused” student fees to individual students at the close of the academic year is not a viable possibility. We want to make clear, referenda dollars voted on by the students is a rare moment when students actually have say in where their fees are going especially compared to the historical negligence of the University to have any transparency on how our tuition is distributed.
The accusation of “corruption” within the Executive Board was related to the tuition assistance that AS executives receive which this Executive board actually for the first time EVER advocated to cut such honoraria – making it the only board to do so and put action behind words. Such an accusation, we believe, is a harmful use of rhetoric and is based on much misinformation that does more of a disservice than good for students. Tuition assistance for AS execs is meant to retain the AS values of accessibility and inclusivity by preserving the opportunity to serve in exec positions to be available to all students regardless of socio-economic backgrounds. As the result of economic realities and the time-intensive nature (40+ hours per week) of executive positions, some students would not have the ability or time to balance a part time job while holding an exec position were it not for tuition assistance, and many students are not able to serve as elected officers not because they are not qualified but because they do not have the economic privilege to do so, especially in light of increasingly burdensome tuition. Additionally, to ensure accountability, AS already has checks and control points in place for addressing and adjudicating internal matters of corruption or frivolous spending. These mechanisms take the form of Judicial Council, Senate ratification, and advice available from AS staff, just to name a few.
Lastly, we would like to take corrective action with respect to an incident that occurred this year involving the misuse of Associated Students resources for personal and academic purpose. Towards the end of November, a student that was not elected or appointed impermissibly utilized the name of AS in an effort to collect data for a class project. This effort constitutes false pretenses, fabrication of an AS committee, and the subsequent deception of the entire undergraduate and graduate student population at UCSB. In response to this incident and in an attempt to ensure this type of abuse will never occur again, the AS Executive Officers have chosen to endorse the only candidate for AS President that, in our collective opinion, demons.trates the integrity and trustworthiness that is vital to fulfilling the mission of Associated Students – Megan Foronda. Ultimately, this decision rests with the student body.
Foronda has proven her thorough knowledge of the internal processes of AS and has extensive experience uniting rather than dividing students. She understands the power of student voices and listens to their concerns, breaking away from the exclusive nature that AS seems to take when individuals focus on themselves and pursue their own agenda. Megan has always supported a wide variety of students whether that be allocating resources towards a diverse array of events or being the only presidential candidate that has substantially planned and organized large scale events and spaces in which students can critically discuss relevant issues at the university, especially that critique Associated Students. She has also been involved in effectively teaching students about the California budget crisis in relation to the privatization of higher education which in a climate of constant attack on affordability of tuition, is ever-important.
As the elected representatives, it is necessary to bring a healthy dose of constructive criticism, desperately needed for a governing body often marred by party politics and rhetoric cluttering the Association with negativity, hostility, and discomfort. We, as individuals from all parties and non-partisan backgrounds, felt it necessary to convey facts to the student body amidst quite a bit of misinformation that goes out there, all of which is not accurate. Associated Students is more than elections, and elected representatives are only a portion of what AS has to offer. The President, as the Chief Executive Officer of Associated Students, is your official representative in all campus, system wide, local, state and federal matters which only increases the need for a president with a solid plan and someone who has demonstrated the responsible and effective use of resources. In short, Megan Foronda is the only presidential candidate that resembles the goals, aspirations, and integrity that Associated Students need.
It is our sincerest hope that you continue to remain critical of your elected student officials and engage in healthy, open, and honest dialogue regarding issues that pertain to YOU. Whomever you vote for, we hope you vote and question information being presented to you. We thank you for your thoughtful consideration in reading this message and wish you a truly enjoyable spring quarter.
Photo Courtesy of Associated Students
*The Executive Officers have all decided to endorse individually and our titles are used for identification purposes only.
The Bottom Line welcomes any Op-Ed submissions at email@example.com.