Every elections season, candidates are not the only ones anxiously waiting to see the results. Organizations that students may view as integral or invisible on campus are also up for reaffirmation.
When students reaffirm an organization, they vote “yes” to refund it at the current amount. If an organization is not reaffirmed, it is allowed to apply again for funding for the following year, but will be placed under financial strain in the meantime since it is effectively defunded for the year in between.
Although students tend to reaffirm almost everything on the ballot, there are some organizations that clearly have more value than others and are deserving of longer term lock-ins, while organizations which provide less vital services to students should be thoughtfully evaluated on a more regular basis.
Ten year lock-in fees, with an option to marginally increase or decrease funding every four years rather than remove a fee entirely, would give organizations the time and funding to pursue development and revamp their programs without fears of tenuous funding.
These longer lock-in fees still allow for democracy because all UCSB students will get the opportunity to give input on the amount of funding, but they will also give students more data on the progress of these organizations, which will make them more educated voters.
The fact that a “yes” means granting some funding for ten years also incentivizes students to more seriously consider what they’re funding and why they’re funding it.
The organizations that provide the most important services to students stand to benefit the most.
For instance, Student Health and CAPS are both valuable because their existence substantially improves students’ quality of life by addressing mental and physical health conditions, which have the potential to distress students and negatively impact academics without treatment.
Student Health is currently a $22.70 quarterly passthrough fee, with a slightly longer timeline for renewal, while CAPS is a $16.05 quarterly lock-in fee, which is renewed every two years.
Having medical services available on campus positively impacts students’ well being because the services are more accessible and thus more beneficial to students than off campus services.
Few would contest the importance of Student Health; however, funding CAPS is similarly important. Although a minority of students may currently use CAPS, it is valuable to the students who use it and can serve as mental health insurance for those who do not.
Without funding from student fees, CAPS would cease to exist or would be put under duress by financial cuts that would force it to charge for its currently free services.
This would exacerbate the organization’s existing issues, with many students already complaining that the office is understaffed. Their complaints underscore the organization’s need for steady support and funding.
The lock-in fee for CAPS was reaffirmed this year, illustrating the value the organization has to students.
If given a longer term lock-in fee, students would be better equipped to consider whether the organization is worth their money because they can judge many years of progress between votes and see how much value these organizations add to the university.
Two years is a short period of time for an organization to demonstrate value, especially considering the time it takes to troubleshoot the complex problems some organizations may face while trying to develop.
Important and quality organizations should be reaffirmed for longer periods of time, so that they can use their financial means to expand and serve students without fear of losing funding. Organizations that provide essential services such as CAPS and Student Health are examples of organizations that should be a no-brainer to refund, although the amount of funding should be critically reviewed on a regular basis.
However, critically evaluating where fees should be cut or redirected is also important. When reviewing the ballot, students should thoughtfully consider how funding will improve the organizations, as well as assessing their efficacy and importance.
Future students should always be afforded the opportunity to outvote prior students’ distribution of fees, but longer term funding should be available for the most important and effective organizations.
Reaffirming everything on the ballot is not the answer. Thoughtful consideration of the implications of our votes is.