by Josh Marxen
Today we had the pleasure of speaking with various representatives of the One Voice slate, including Nicole Patolai (VP External Affairs), Vincent Honrubia (Campuswide Senator), Robbie Boparai (Biological Science), and Grant Oliviera (VP Finance). We asked them several questions about the official positions their slate took on certain issues.
When asked about what made their slate unique, they noted their distinct focus on “financial stability.” By the beginning of this year, AS had incurred a deficit of $250,000 which had to be made up by dipping into AS reserves – obviously, such deficits are not repeatable, and One Voice has some very exciting ideas for preventing them from happening in the future.
First and famously, none of their members will accept the stipends typically associated with their positions if elected. Explaining that, while the stipends only make up 3% of the AS budget, it’s the quickest, easiest thing they can do for the students. This stance has got them some surprising criticism, namely, that other slates can’t make the same pledge because One Voice slate members are relatively “privileged.” Their response that this criticism is baseless – the diversity and background of their members are no different than those of the other slates.
But their fiscal responsibility doesn’t stop there. Grant Oliviera (VP of Finance), proposed two ideas for increasing AS revenue without increasing student fees. First, he wants to ramp up AS enterprise operations, which he says are currently successful, but can be optimized. Second, he’s going to wrestle with the administration for ownership of UCSD’s trademark. While this hasn’t been tried before with UCSD’s council, he says that the Associated Students at UCLA own their school’s trademark, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented. This would allow council to increase their profit from selling school-related merchandise.
In addition to increasing revenues, slate members say that they will also work to reduce waste where it occurs. For instance, Nicole Patolai (VP of External affairs), identified the Office for Environmental and Social Justice (established in February of this year) as a position which didn’t need to be created. Patolai claimes creating this took a lot of the council’s time and increased their stipend budget, but the duties associated with the office could simply have been distributed among existing offices.
With the remaining money, One Voice says that it will move to change funding practices so that student interests are prioritized. Oliviera explained that, currently, the portion of the AS budget devoted to student organizations is a mere 7.8%, while the portion of the student body that is involved in student organizations is 60%. Oliviera intends to install mechanisms that would reduce this discrepancy over time and increase the allocation of funding to student organizations. Additionally, Oliviera told us that AS allocates $22,000 per year to undergraduate research grants. One of his goals is to double this allocation to better benefit students directly. Samuel Chang, the One Voice presidential candidate, has already been working toward this goal during his term as AVP of Academic Affairs last year.
In addition to increasing funding for student orgs, Oliviera told us that the slate intends to cut down on the red tape student orgs face whenever they plan an event. If you’re in a student org, you know how much of a hassle it is to fill out a TAP form a full three weeks in advance of an event. The deadline is an unnecessary obfuscation if your event is a simple meeting that requires a room reservation, or if some significant campus event needs a quick response from your org. Oliviera has suggested that instead of having a uniform TAP form for all events, the deadline for TAPs will depend on such factors as complexity, expected number of students attending, or whether or not food or special equipment will be required.
After years of tuition hikes, budget cuts, growing administrator salaries, and general budgetary waste at UCSD, the platform of fiscal responsibility One Voice has worked hard to portray seems to be resounding quite well with those who want to put the university back in the hands of the students.
Students can vote online using MyTritonLink through Friday, April 12th.