Welcome to UCSD; Your First Lesson in Wasteful Government Spending

Here at UCSD your money is used in many ways. One major way is through your Student Activity fee which goes to a student government which no freshman voted for. You do not have a choice whether or not to pay the Student Activity fee, because if you don’t then you are no longer a student at UCSD. Let’s examine last year’s budget to see just what you were forced to pay for.

Associated Student Government (AS) gets 96.6% of their funding through your activity fee, a whopping $2,772,058 last year. Their expendable funds totaled $2,866,937. The two main programs your funds are used for are the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Services (SPACES) which received $344,065, and the Student Sustainability Collective (SSC) which received $161,909. Both of them make the claim on their websites that they offer free services to students which is outrageous because AS is actually paying for them using your Activity fee. What are these services one may ask? SPACES pushes the ideals of social justice: progressive tax system, income redistribution, focusing more on equality of outcomes rather equality of opportunities. If you are the half of the American public that believes in individual liberty, that’s a pity because you’re forced to pay for ideals contrary to yours. According to their website, SPACES encourages community outreach and works in the community which means not only do must you involuntarily fund these ideas, but help push and propagandize them to UCSD students and the community using your tuition whether you agree with them or not.

Meanwhile, the SSC works hard to ensure that everything on campus is going to be more expensive by banning the sale of water bottles and styrofoam on campus. Apparently they haven’t stopped to think of the consequences of this, or maybe they have and they don’t care what the cost is to you. Companies compete for your business by means of lowering prices to make their products more attractive. With the loss of plastic and styrofoam, the cost for your food will increase as businesses on campus are forced to turn to more expensive alternatives. Essentially you are paying to force yourself to pay more for food and other items. Remember though, these are advertised as free services and programs according to their websites.

With SPACES and SSC paid for, the “expendable funds after referendum allocation” is $2,360,963. What to waste money on next, says AS. Let’s fund the office of the president with $34,350 so that they can give speeches and go to “council mixers.” After that minor binge, it’s time to waste money on the office of student life, the people who put on events. They spend $18,000 on three pancake breakfasts alone, but that isn’t nearly the biggest waste. That award belongs to the Sun God Festival which soaked up $530,000 with a contingency of an additional $20,000. As happens every year, AS ran out of student wristbands for the student body so if you still wanted to go you would have to buy a ticket just like alumni, friends, staff, and faculty have to. On top of this, AS puts on five Bear Gardens a year where they give out “free” food and drinks. The “free” cost of these is a total of $72,500 and you’d better get their early because they don’t have enough for the students that fund these events. The overall budget for Office of Student Affairs was $857,009, which you paid for whether you attended these events or not.

The Office of Finance and Resources spent a more modest $657,978 going to things like “saferides” and the Holiday Airport Shuttle. If you don’t drink, or drink responsibly by finding a friend or taxi to get you home, that’s too bad – you paid for saferides whether you used it or not. If you don’t need to go to the airport on the holidays or were a responsible studentand found your own way to the airport, too bad! You paid for it already. The Office of External Affairs was much easier on our wallets by graciously allowing us to only pay $62,000 for their budget, which included $43,500 for their “Travel and Conferences.”

Unfortunately we cannot go through every item of spending, but another important item is administration allocations which accounted for a total of $661,795. Only student life accounts for more money in the budget. Administration means all the salaries and materials for AS. For example, $3,840 for the A.S. President’s Assistant, $39,300 for A.S. Fund Manager Assistant, $48,012 for Graphic Studio Artist, $50,000 for Event Manager, and $156,974 for their benefits.

This brings us to our last, and my favorite, budgetary matter; council stipends. This is where AS gets to pay themselves (through your student fees) for a job poorly done. Going down the list we see $10,000 for the President, $5,250 each for Vice President of Student Life, Vice President of External Affairs, Vice President of Finance and Resources, $3,500 each for AVP – Academic Affairs, Concerts and Events, Student Organizations, Student Services, Enterprise Operations, Student Advocacy, Diversity Affairs, Athletic Relations, College Affairs, Local Affairs, $300 for 30 Senators, and so many, many more for a grand total of $115,493 of your money.

After spending all of last year’s funding, AS this year will start out $110,567 in the negative. Even though freshman and transfer students didn’t go to this school last year, they will be paying for it. There are many lessons to be learned, so don’t believe everything you’re told. Be sure to look everywhere for lessons including the ineptitude of government and agencies that want to try and give you something for “free” when it’s not – it’s robbery with the full force of government behind it.

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8 comments

  1. This article has serious problems from both a grammatical standpoint and a lack of evidence. It is reprehensible that the California Review Board allowed it to be posted and it is boldly apparent that all of the content editors need to be retrained. Mr. Webb never provides evidence that paper plates are more expensive than Styrofoam or plastic. On the contrary those of us that go to the supermarket will tell you that paper is both more cost conscious and better for the environment. The first paragraph is quite sophomoric and there should be NO comma before “let’s examine last year’s budget to see just what you were forced to pay for.” Rather, it should be a new sentence. In addition the final paragraph states “There are many lessons to be learned believe everything you’re told” which seems to contradict the author’s claim that we should not believe AS. The author also neglects to mention that nearly 70% of the UCSD senators donate their stipend back to the AS budget. Thus they are VOLUNTEERING their time to their school. Finally, is it really wise to suggest that UCSD should cancel sun god? Mr. Webb sure sounds like Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge…..

  2. SJ Morris · ·

    Haha wow…”Reprehensible?”…great scott! You would think people wasn’t an actual war going on in the Middle East!

  3. I appreciate your diligence and excitement over finding typos in this article. I have made the necessary changes.

  4. Campus vendors’ prices are fixed through agreements with university centers; styrofoam mandates will not make any prices go up.
    The referendum for SPACES was voted on by the student body. AS doesn’t have the ability to micro manage their budget. Issues with the SPACES budget should be brought to them. They actually spend about half the student fees that you think, since they get matched funding from the administration.
    You’re free to have your own opinion about council stipends.
    One doesn’t have to be drunk to use AS safe rides. Students who don’t drink or who drive responsibly are also free to sign up for the service.
    There are enough sungod wristbands for students who want to go. The real problem is the issue of scalping wristbands on the part of students who claim their wristband with no intention of going to the festival.
    I see how travel and conferences was typed with quotation marks… but I don’t see why. It’s exactly what it is; travel and conferences. This quarter alone, over 300 ucsd students have developed their skills and knowledge at conferences. Students are penalized and blacklisted for ditching workshops, sleeping in, etc at said conferences.
    You say SPACES pushes several ideals, but I am not aware of any said ideals and I have been employed at SPACES. I could be wrong.
    Thanks for the concerns; as always feel free to contact any person on AS to iron an issue out.

  5. Grammatical issues aside…

    This article’s main inaccuracy lies in the fact that the author (like so many self-proclaimed “conservative” politicians in government) fails to see any difference between “wasting money” and “spending money”. The difference, of course, is that when you spend money, you get something for it. The author, therefore, simply regards every single AS expenditure as waste.

    The author believes that because AS programs do not directly benefit every single student, students receive benefits that total less than the full cost of the programs. For example, the author claims that if “you don’t drink, or drink responsibly by finding a friend or taxi to get you home, that’s too bad – you paid for [AS Safe Rides] whether you used it or not.”

    The fallacy in this line of reasoning is that it ignores the existence of external costs and public goods. If a student dies in a drunk driving accident because she did not have access to a safe and reliable way to get home, it does not just cost the student her life. There are enormous external costs associated with the accident for everyone who knew the student, and even those in the community who did not know her, but still have to deal with the community’s sadness.

    AS Safe Rides therefore provides a public good by reducing the number of DUI-related deaths and injuries in our community. I have never used AS Safe Rides. I benefit, though, from not having my friends killed in drunk driving accidents, or my friends’ friends, or anyone else the campus would otherwise mourn over. I regard this benefit as far greater than the small sliver of my student fees that goes towards Safe Rides.

    AS Programs:

    It is not hard to see that other AS programs likewise provide benefits beyond the direct ones to those that use them. I have never been to a Pancake Breakfast or Bear Gardens, but I benefit from the stress relief that they provide and the active campus climate that they foster. My hometown is 30 miles from campus, but I benefit when others are able to use the Holiday Airport Shuttles to easily go home for the holidays, see their families, and return more relaxed and happy. I do attend Sun God, but I see that the festive atmosphere on campus because of the event spreads even to those who do not.

    SPACES and the SSC:

    The author simply dismisses SPACES as an organization devoted to promoting “social justice: [a] progressive tax system, income redistribution, [and a focus] more on equality of outcomes [than on] equality of opportunities.” Hence the author transforms an examination of the costs and benefits of SPACES into a dichotomous choice between individualism and socialism. However, a discussion of the merits of these ideas is beyond both the scope of the article and this critique.

    According to the SPACES website, the organization’s goals include “equal access to higher education, undergraduate retention and graduation, and matriculation to graduate and professional schools.” Education is a textbook example of a public good; everyone benefits when more people are educated, not just those who are educated. Greater equality in education reduces social cleavages and conflict. The author states that “SPACES encourages community outreach and works in the community[,] which means [that] not only […] must you involuntarily fund these ideas, but [you must] help push and propagandize [sic] them to UCSD students and the community using your tuition whether you agree with them or not [sic].” As a public good, community service is another textbook example.

    According to the SSC website, “[the] SSC emphasizes community, collaboration, and empowerment to foster a culture of responsibility and to ensure a sustainable future.” Environmental health may be the ultimate example of a public good. Styrofoam and plastic bottles may save students small amounts on an individual basis, but they incur a much higher external cost to society. Thus the SSC benefits everyone by encouraging practices that do not cost all of us in terms of environmental health.

    AS salaries:

    It is easy to look at the salaries and benefits of administrators and conclude that they are paid too much. But from an economic standpoint, the cost of hiring and retaining a good employee should be one dollar more than the next available offer, which is a worthwhile investment only if the employee brings in more benefit than that salary. This is why, for example, the Chancellor has a six-figure salary. We would not be able to attract and retain good administrators without paying them more than other universities are willing to offer. The idea is that the administrator’s skill will bring in more benefit than the cost of the salary.

    Elected AS officials are paid because of the considerable commitment that the job requires. We could debate endlessly about whether the AS Council “does a good job”. But if the job required hours and hours of thankless work per week for NO pay, it is doubtful that anyone would be willing to do ANY job. With no salaries, AS would grind to a halt and become the ineffective administration it is accused of being.

    Under-provision of public goods:

    The author suggests that we should not be forced to pay for these services because we may or may not actually use them. This implies that the services should only be provided as options that we might receive if we individually decide to pay for them. Once again, this perspective ignores the benefits of public goods to all of us. Things like AS Safe Rides, Sun God, SPACES, and yes, even AS salaries benefit every student whether or not he or she personally uses them. These are public goods that would be under-provided if the services were only offered on an opt-in, you-get-what-you-pay-for basis.

    Are these expenditures, in fact, waste? Or are they investments in an active, inclusive, and safe campus climate? If one does not simply regard every government expenditure as wasteful by default, instead examining all the benefits of each expenditure, one finds that the truth is closer to the latter than to the former.

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