The current ASUC Senate was dealt a bad hand. Its predecessors established an irresponsible precedent of supporting student groups in a manner that cannot be maintained. When the approximately $1.6 million in student fees collected by the ASUC runs out, the senate draws on reserves to continue funding groups. But in the past, the Carry Forward Fund — which the senate taps to keep financing groups — was replenished with revenues generated by the ASUC Auxiliary, the administrative branch of the student government. Those profits have fallen off over the years, leaving the senate unable to continue funneling more money into the fund.
In order to rectify this unsustainable model, senators have to choose between asking students to pay a greater fee or cutting ASUC funds for groups on campus. In attempting to proactively solve this issue now, the senate can avoid a financial nightmare in the future.
At their last meeting, senators acknowledged the necessity of planning for the future as they considered options for closing a projected $50,000 funding gap. One solution they identified to solve this structural problem was putting a student fee increase on next spring’s ASUC election ballot. Increasing the ASUC’s student fee may not go over well with everyone, but it deserves to be put up for a vote. In order to win that election, the senate will need to prove that the spending choices they have made correspond to a legitimate need from student organizations.
If groups really do need a larger funding source, their members should be willing to vote for a fee increase. Students cannot expect the senate to provide for additional student groups and give more money to the groups it already funds without raising the fee.
Should students reject an ASUC ballot measure in the spring, that failure would indicate that they feel the ASUC gives out enough money as is, or they simply can’t afford to pay any more fees. At that point, the senate should thoroughly investigate all its options for decreasing costs. It could decide to place a cap on how many student groups it funds, as one senator suggested, or substantially reduce the amount of money given across the board.
No matter what course of action the senate takes, it is clear that the current system cannot continue. Last week’s discussion indicates that senators are taking this situation seriously. Moving forward, students must see that conversation translate into some much-needed financial reforms.
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