Wednesday, February 25, 2009
And far more important than any of this other nonsense is the proposal for commercial revenue and expense sharing between the ASUC and GA. Let me preface all of this with the reminder: Graduate students pay nothing to the Senate, but have full voting rights there. Keep that in mind when measuring the fairness of the proposal. (One of the resolved clauses claimed, perhaps ironically, that the goal was for "commercial activity revenue to be shared as equally and fairly as student fees currently are.")
The basics of the proposal is to have any commercial revenue available beyond $274,000 be given to the GA, up to the proportion of students who are graduate students. In exchange, the GA would pay a proportion equal to the proportion of commercial revenue they get for Attorney Fees, the Legal Defense Fund, and elections (unless the current MOU's amount, 12% or the proportion of grad students who vote, is higher).
Mysteriously, the revenue sharing and expense sharing aspects are provided in different bills. The expense sharing aspect is contingent on the revenue sharing, but the reverse isn't true. I certainly hope the ASUC will pass both bills or neither, but the only reason I can think of for keeping the bills separate is that they won't.
The minimum dollar amount means the ASUC is invariably giving more money to the GA then the GA is contributing in expenses. This doesn't itself make it bad, but I just want everyone to be clear on this point. The GA argues that, with this agreement, graduate students will suddenly care about making money from commercial activities, and since they're so much smarter and stay around so much longer, their investment will provide a huge boost to commercial revenues. Anyone familiar with graduate students knows this is utter nonsense. (The ASUC's pathetic ability to interest undergraduate students is huge compared to the GA's ability to interest grad students)
(Two other aspects involve making the ASUC Auxiliary's monetary information available to the ASUC and GA and limiting the rate at which the Auxiliary increases spending. I believe this means they'll need the agreement of the university administration and the Store Operations Board to get it passed)
Remember that the GA is far more proficient at advancing its own interests than the ASUC Senate. That's how free representation occurred, how they reduced their elections bill, and how they've gained more power with every MOU. That's why this proposal needs to be approached with suspicion and caution. As I noted, I don't buy that the GA can actually do anything special to boost revenues (which hover around $0 right now, I believe), so I feel like they're trying to piggyback on any eventual turnaround to get credit.
The proposal isn't horrendous, though the minimum amount is a way to insulate themselves from having to pay the consequences of any failure, while ensuring they'll be able to reap any benefit. What I would suggest to the Senate, which I'm pretty sure will eventually agree with the proposal, is to go through the budget and find every line item that could be considered to be a benefit to both undergrads and grad students and try to add it to the list of things on which expenses will be shared. I'm not really hoping for a "fair" outcome, because the free ASUC representation issue eliminates any possibility of that. So saying this is better than the current process doesn't really make sense (unless you're in the GA!). Still, the ASUC needs to grow some and stand up for undergrads for a change, and extract as much as they can from the GA when making these kinds of agreements, because that's exactly the way the GA approaches the ASUC.
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