Associated Students Beat Reporter
Photos by Lorenzo Basilio, Photo Editor
The Associated Students Senate discussed two bills to update Article IV of the AS University of California, Santa Barbara Legal Code at the Dec. 3 meeting at UCSB.
A Bill to Update Article IV Section 1 of the ASUCSB Legal Code, authored by Letters and Science collegiate senator Nadia Blant and seconded by College of Creative Studies collegiate senator Liam Stanton, states that, “In order to correct deficits and excess surpluses the Senate shall be empowered to, at any time, by directional resolution, and where serious budgetary discrepancies exist, appropriate funds out of any trustee account, or the suspense account, and into any operating account within the Association.”
This bill was written with the AS Food Bank in mind, as the bill states that the Food Bank is “in the midst of a 40k shortfall this fiscal year and desperately needs relief.” However, this statement, according to representatives of the Food Bank, is false, and was negated during public forum by Food Bank Coordinator Tuyen Nguyen and Food Bank Committee chair Erick Lankey.
“There are particular needs within the Food Bank, and those needs have essentially always been operational,” said Nguyen. “So the fundraising goal of $40,000 is what we are projecting for the work that we are doing, so we are actually not in a deficit.”
The AS Food Bank operates every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, based on a $1.81 lock-in fee paid for by students, as well as donations from outside sources. The AS Food Bank Committee is funded yearly through the AS Finance and Business Committee, and plans several Food Bank-related events, such as the upcoming Food Summit, a statewide conference held at UCSB on Jan. 16, 2015.
“The fundraising goal of $40,000 is solely on the operational side and has nothing to do with the Food Summit or any other events … [it is] to keep this space open to service the needs on our campus,” said Lankey.
Nguyen stated that the word “deficit” needs to be removed from the bill. She also stated that a temporary fix of the allocation of funds is not what the AS Food Bank needs, but rather a long term solution to the food crisis.
“We, because of the needs of our students, are forced to raise that amount if we want to keep up the quality of service that we have,” said Nguyen. “The fundraising goal is in terms of quality and our current capacity.”
Blant stated that this year’s senate, as well as the future senate, needs to be examining this long-term budgetary crisis, and she wanted to be clear that this bill was not meant to fix all of the problems regarding organization budget concerns.
“I talked to Senator Villareal, I talked to the CFO at one point, about certain other possible fixes,” said Stanton. “As it stands, we don’t know how to deal with budgetary discrepancies unless we raise student fees … I thought we should just very narrowly, very limitedly, very surgically, give someone the ability to remove funds up to 25 percent of any given suspense or trustee account … and give it to an organization that needs the money.”
The bill was moved to Immediate Consideration. After a 24-0-0 vote, it was tabled indefinitely.
Additionally, several members of the Panhellenic community at UCSB attended public forum to show their distaste for the second bill to update Article IV.
A Bill to Update Article IV Section 7 of the ASUCSB Legal Code, authored by Liam Stanton and seconded by Nadia Blant, states that, “any dues-collecting organization seeking any kind of ASUCSB sponsorship or funds shall disclose publicly its quarterly and/or yearly income from dues to AS Finance Board, as well as to the Senate. This information shall weigh heavily in cases of limited resources and financial prioritization.”
UCSB Pi Beta Phi Vice President of Finance Dom Pietro spoke on behalf of her sorority.
“Our finance budget goes to our house, scholarships for our girls, the food that we eat, internet, electricity, water, we pay campus obligation fees, and a lot of these [are] things that people would have to pay for anyway throughout their life if they weren’t a part of Greek Life,” said Pietro. “It’s not like our chapter dues are for things that only Greek Life people do.”
Pietro also stated that the Pi Beta Phi national organization does not allow individual chapters to disclose specific information about the dues that individual girls pay, so the Pi Beta Phi chapter at UCSB would not be able to “disclose publicly its quarterly and/or yearly income from dues” to AS Finance and Business Committee, even if this bill says that is something they must do in order to receive funding.
“By forcing us to give out that information we wouldn’t be able to get any funding,” said Pietro. “We have two events on campus that we do, and those are both funded by AS Finance Board, and they would not be able to happen without it … We use our full finance budget for both of these events, but it wouldn’t be able to cover even a little bit of it without you guys.”
Pi Beta Phi holds two events per year–Arrow Jam and Pi Burger Fry–and each raises $14,000 for illiteracy and $3,000 for the American Cancer Society, respectively.
“This bill is not targeted at Greek Life,” said Stanton. “I would never put language like that in legal code; that would be caustic and stupid … This bill is directed at the problem that I know other senators have shared concerns about with me, as I have with them, that we seem to sometimes fund events that do not seem to be inclusive or for organizations that are in most need of funding.”
The bill also states that, “organizations normally associated with suspicious affluence have used student fees through ASUCSB to prop up their bottom line.”
“I think we should prioritize more needy organizations over more affluent ones,” said Stanton.
According to Stanton, the bill states that when considering funding, the Senate should consider the necessity of the funding in prioritizing the Office of Student Life budget.
Several senators disagreed with the bill, including On-Campus Senator Matthew Santos.
“I really, really like the idea of fiscal transparency,” said Santos. “I think that it’s a wonderful idea [and] we should implement that. However, I think that this is a really haphazardly written piece of legislation to go about it.”
Santos expressed his discomfort with the language of the bill, stating that, the way the bill is currently written, it seems as though if a group is unable to meet this transparency requirement, the Senate will have to “rob Peter to pay for Paul,” or to take funds from one source in order to fund another student group.
“I feel uncomfortable when groups that do philanthropy already feel this uncomfortable,” said Santos.
The bill was moved to Immediate Consideration. After a 22-2-2 vote, the bill was tabled indefinitely.