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Nap Time!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007
Other UCSA news

Be sure to check out the UCSA website. See the giant banner on the top? It misstates the name of the organization. This is, by the way, a $10,000 website.

At the time of this post, the top headline is "Students Tell Governor to Sign SB 1." That's the DREAM Act, for those of you who don't memorize California bill names. The failed, vetoed DREAM Act, for those of you who don't follow California bills. So yes, the UCSA website currently boldly advertises the fact that it fails at its goals.

If you'd like to know more about UC Davis's relationship to the UCSA, be sure to check out this report by Brent Laabs, former UCSA Chair and current UCD GSA (the graduate student government at Davis) External Chair. It was prepared before the GSA left the UCSA, and has a great deal of criticism that is applicable to all student governments currently shoving barrels of money UCSA's way. (If you don't want to read the whole thing, just read the "Executive Summary" and the "Discussion." "Fiscal Analysis," "Internal Structure of UCSA," and "Public Image" are pretty interesting, as well.) Some highlights (emphasis mine):

On the obsession with a "unified voice" that Danny Montes demands:
Do ASUCD and UCD GSA have a moral obligation to participate in UCSA?

In some sense, yes – we should stand in solidarity with other students. However, when UCSA does such a poor job of representing the students they represent, then we cannot justify remaining in the organization. ASUCD and UCD GSA have tried to fix it for eight years running – how long is too long? Instead, we can better serve all students by developing a new vision here in Davis, implementing it, and achieving goals which truly affect students lives.
On UCSA fees:
UCSA's fee increases seem to echo the rate of fee increases imposed by the Regents on both graduate students and undergrads. For an organization that has stood against fee increases on the grounds that it prevents access to education, this behavior seems questionable. Perhaps it can be argued that these fee increases are an investment in an organization to prevent future fee increases. However, as fee increases continue (with the notable exception of the 2006 election year fee freeze, a "UCSA victory"), it becomes clear that UCSA hasn't been able to stop fee increases.

However, UCSA is in better financial shape than it ever has been, in terms of income. Some schools choose to contribute over the minimum amount of dues to UCSA. Notable among these are UCLA and UCSB, who appear to get more attention and influence as a result of their contributions. Undergraduates at Santa Barbara contribute more than seven dollars per student per year to UCSA – this was passed in a $100 per quarter fee referendum for AS UCSB in 2006. Fee referenda have been the route to stability for UCSA, so its staff will volunteer to help organize a fee referendum for UCSA on your campus. This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of UCSA's new philosophy; UCSA hasn't been able to stop large fee increases in the UC system, but is more than willing to increase fees to itself.
On bubbles:
[D]ebate is not truly welcome at UCSA. Expressing opposing opinions is tantamount to heresy in some circumstances. During officer elections at the end of Congress 2007, one candidate running for an office unopposed was asked to leave the room so the Board could debate. One Board member spoke that the candidate had made one of his delegation uncomfortable, so he couldn't vote for the candidate. He was finally persuaded to divulge the reason the delegate was uncomfortable: the candidate had said that Congress was "too focused on ethnic/cultural and LGBT issues." As someone who agrees with this sentiment, I find it hard to understand why this was so inflammatory that it had to be told to everyone behind the candidate's back.
On changing the admission policy:
Additionally, when I spoke with the UC Regents, I stated that changing admission policy was not the best or most ethical way to improve diversity on campuses. I spoke about how eliminating NRT [Non-Resident Tuition], improving K-12 education, and funding student-initiated outreach programs would help solve the underlying problems of maintaining diversity. This was a prime reason that I was removed from office, as it angered many board members, particularly from UCLA. But there had never been a debate in UCSA about why they have the values they do. Certainly, we in ASUCD and UCD GSA support the access, affordability, and quality of UC education, but what we mean by that is the subject of ongoing debate. UCSA never has that debate. Congress amounts to an "indoctrination", according to some of the members of UCD GSA's delegation in 2007.
Anyway, I encourage folks to take a look. I especially encourage our own ASUC elected officials to take a look and consider whether the students of Berkeley are really best served by forking $31,029.90 to the UCSA this year (number from the budget), rather than spending it on direct, potentially more effective lobbying, or on student groups (both of which the UC Davis undergrad association did). "That's what we've always done!" is not an excuse, nor is it even accurate.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/20/2007 11:36:00 PM #
Comments (2)
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The amount of $31,029.90 is deceptive. There are in fact many other expenses that ASUC and the other student governments must pay while being members of UCSA.

A prime example of this is the annual congress. Berkeley as a large school is sending around 10 people to some other campus (in 2006 it was all the way down in San Diego) for the annual congress. Those 10 people need to pay reg fees for attending the even (which can get around 100 dollars each depending on when you register), hotel fees for multiple days, travel expenses for getting the 10 people down there, and meals for the times that the event is not catered. All of these expenses must come out of pocket from ASUC in addition to the membership fees. You must also add in monthly board meetings, Regent meetings every 2 months, lobby days in Sacramento and DC. All together ASUC being part of UCSA is significantly more than the line item of 31,000 you see in the budget.
According to this page, registration for Congress cost ASUC $675 for just registration, or if they preregistered to stay with UCSA, $1890. This assumes they only took nine people with them, which is their current number of votes.

This doesn't include the cost of spending one night a month on a hotel room. Since Mr. Montes is a UCSA officer, he gets to go the Executive Committee meetings, which take place the night before the UCSA Board meetings. Thus, ASUC will spend for two nights. Assuming six meetings out of daily driving distance at a Motel 6 (where I'm sure he's not staying), that'll cost $720 as an extreme low estimate -- given that Danny usually brings 1-2 people with him, this cost could easily be double.

The UC Office of the President picks up the tab for travel expenses, so at least ASUC membership doesn't pay for that directly. Oh wait, they do. UCOP only pays for one car or one plane ticket, so the cost could be more to ASUC.

Okay, now UCSA doesn't print their own voter guides, and asks the ASUC to print and distribute them. Add another $3000.

So, excluding the GA in this entire analysis, we're up to $37,320. I think it was actually the UCSA that walked off with boxes of our student money.
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