Last weekend’s ASUCD budget hearings allowed members of the student government to discuss and close the budgets of over 25 units and commissions.
The discussion time yielded many positive changes, including increased funding to the Gender and Sexualities Commission and a 15 to 20 percent cut to the president’s budget. The senate also added two additional paid positions to the Campus Center for the Environment – a unit that surely needs all the help it can get, as UC Davis becomes the hub of environmental research and its students look for ways to participate.
Management ensured that the meetings were kept public and transparent at all times, and in general, senate reserves were cut to the bare minimum. The nearly-finalized budget is something to be proud of.
However, the process of discussing the budget showed a general lack of efficiency and focus of members of the ASUCD Senate. Their behavior suggested to their units that they are unprepared and unprofessional, with many showing up late and admitting to being uninformed about the budget process.
Over the course of the weekend, the senate was typically no less than two hours behind schedule, forcing unit directors to sit through hours of debate over issues that should have been discussed prior to hearings. They were repetitive in their comments when they could have simply yielded to the next speaker. In future meetings, senators should consider whether their comments will lead to a productive decision or merely prolong an argument.
In addition, senators were given the budget one week before the hearings and were encouraged to become familiar with it prior to the weekend. Yet it appeared that they hadn’t done this, as the majority of discussions of the budgets were centered on questions within the budget, such as the function of certain positions.
Considering they manage a $10.5 million budget, senators ought to take more care in the discussion process to adhere to professionalism. ASUCD should demonstrate to its units and students that its members have control over the government and can balance an otherwise proficient budget with succinct discussion.