Bridges Multicultural Resource Center, campus recruitment and retention centers fight for increased funding

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Catherine Wallin/Staff

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Members of the bridges Multicultural Resource Center and four of the campus’s recruitment and retention centers, or RRCs, packed the ASUC Financial Committee meeting Monday to appeal its 2017-18 budget allocations for more funding.

Though all of the organizations were given additional funding, the majority received thousands of dollars less than requested. Bridges Multicultural Resource Center was allocated an additional $3,500 after the appeal, and the four RRCs were awarded amounts ranging from $2,000 to $6,000, according to Marvin Baclig, operations director of bridges.

At the meeting, members of bridges requested that their initial allocation of $28,000 be raised to $47,000.

The Black Recruitment and Retention Center, or BRRC; Raíces Recruitment and Retention Center; Pilipinx Academic Student Services, or PASS; and REACH! Asian Pacific Islander Recruitment and Retention Center had varying requests. BRRC requested the largest increase in its appeal, from $44,000 to $65,000. REACH! asked for the smallest increase, from $19,000 to $21,200.

In recent years, the campus coalition of multicultural resource organizations, including bridges, BRRC, the Raíces Center, PASS and REACH!, has expanded to include two more groups: the Middle Eastern and North African Recruitment and Retention Center and the Mixed Student Union, according to Carolyn Nguyen, executive director of bridges.

Since including these groups, the coalition has gradually increased funding for them, and next year there will be an equal split between the organizations in the coalition. The money requested would have gone to make up for the loss of funds that has occurred by adding more groups, Nguyen said.

Nguyen said the RRC programs at UC Berkeley are far underfunded in comparison to similar programs at other universities, which in some cases receive upward of $1 million in funding.

Paul Cho, the ASUC chief financial officer, was responsible for allocating the initial funds to the various student organizations that applied, and he noted that the ASUC only has a certain amount of money to allocate each year. Cho said allocations are influenced by the mission of the student organization, the number of students influenced and the impact of the group.

“I believed it started a meaningful conversation,” Alaa Aissi, an ASUC senator, said in an email. “Their appeals portrayed the critical work bridges accomplishes, and it also highlighted the various restrictions that (bridges) continues to face.”

Both Nguyen and Baclig said they hope that in the future the ASUC will have more transparency with student groups during the budget allocation process.

The ASUC has set a financial cap as to how much money it can give away during each day of its two-day appeals process, according to Nguyen. Baclig said it would have been more strategic for bridges and the other RRC groups to split up over the two meetings for their appeals so they would have more money that could be allocated, but the groups were unaware that the ASUC had this financial cap in place.

Baclig said the coalition’s next steps might include drafting a referendum to increase funding for the organizations. This way, funding would be determined by the votes from the entire student body.

“At a certain point, it gets tiring to have to keep going to ASUC and justify the work that we do,” Baclig said.

Contact Kate Tinney at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @K_Tinney.

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  • jim hoch

    Maybe the ASUC could release a rank ordering of the various groups with relative importance. By multiplying the importance coefficient by the number of students served we could derive a budget for each group.