After protests, ASUC Finance Committee votes to fund campus resource centers

Maya Valluru/Staff

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Members of organizations such as bridges Multicultural Resource Center crowded the ASUC Senate chambers Tuesday in Eshleman Hall, speaking out — often out of turn — against the ASUC Finance Committee.

Campus community members and ASUC elected officials alike came together at the ASUC Finance Committee’s special meeting Tuesday to protest the potential defunding of bridges and the seven campus retention and recruitment centers, or RRCs, which was proposed at the last senate meeting April 25.

The Finance Committee, however, voted that bridges and all seven RRCs would receive 90 percent of the funding they were allocated in March through the Annual Budgeting and Spaces Allocation, or ABSA.

“It was a compromise, in terms of what bridges is looking for,” said Jose Fernandez, a campus senior and the bridges operations director. “It’s kind of redundant that (they) go through hoops.” 

The initial decision to remove funding was made in light of the passage of the Student Transformation through Academic Recruitment and Retention, or STARR, referendum, which allocates an undergraduate student fee of $26.50 per semester toward bridges and the affiliated RRCs. The referendum’s funding, however, would not begin until fall 2018, according to its text, placing bridges’ programs at risk of cancellation in the interim.

During the meeting, ASUC Senator Rizza Estacio proposed restoring funding to bridges and the RRCs, but this failed to pass a vote. After that, various members of the Finance Committee made multiple motions to restore funding to individual RRCs.

In the middle of the negotiations over funding for Raíces Recruitment & Retention Center, however, ASUC President Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris stated her disapproval for the proposed funding for bridges and the RRCs.

“I do not think the current amounts reflect how much these student organizations need to function in the first four weeks, so my ask is that you consider a more appropriate allocation — or I will issue a presidential veto,” AbdulQadir-Morris said at the meeting.

The Finance Committee then went into an extended recess, ultimately deciding to fund bridges and the RRCs. 

The decision to provide 90 percent of the original funding to the RRCs and bridges was made to protect the STARR referendum. According to ASUC Senator and External Affairs Vice President-elect Nuha Khalfay, the UC Office of the President would be able to veto the referendum if the total amount were provided.

The funding allocation also came with the condition that the RRCs and bridges would not apply for funding through the ABSA again after the 2018-19 school year, aside from situations of extenuating circumstances.

Estacio called funding from the ASUC “volatile,” saying this condition “gives even more flexibility … to what STARR can do.”

While the Finance Committee decided to restore the majority of bridges’ funding, the situation was met with criticism from members of the campus community.

“I think the worst part of it is that they took away money from bridges without any sort of reason,” said Amir Amerian, a campus senior and the director of the Queer Alliance Resource Center. “It’s just irresponsible on their part.” 

Ketki Samel is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ketkisamel.