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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Zwald vetoes student oversight initiative

ASUCD President Jack Zwald gave four reasons why a potential initiative to give students more say in Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) spending should not be included on this month’s ballot.

“I am [vetoing this initiative] not because I disagree with the idea that students should have more control over where our fees go and how they are spent, but rather that several legal issues have been pointed out that make this initiative an unacceptable way to do this,” Zwald stated in his veto message to students.

The ballot initiative would have given a board of 11 students the final say in whether or not ICA was spending student funds appropriately. The money gained from student ballot initiatives for ICA comprises roughly 60 percent of ICA’s budget, said ICA Director Greg Warzecka.

The first reason for Zwald’s veto was that, due to NCAA guidelines, Chancellor Linda Katehi must control the ICA’s budget.

The second reason was that the board would take governing authority away from Student Services and Fees Administration Advisory Committee (SSFAAC), a UC Regent-mandated board of students which votes on the level and use of student registration fees.

The third reason is that the board, comprised of undergraduates, would have voting control over fees that graduate students contribute to.

Lastly, some of the money from student initiative funds goes toward services such as Unitrans and the Activities and Recreation Center. As these are capital assets, Zwald did not feel the proposed board could adequately oversee all sectors.

Zachary Hansen, the bill’s author and senior psychology major, said that he was not offended by the veto, but he still believes that the administration should make a better effort to show their concern.

“Jack made a decision that he felt was in the best interest of the students, but I think Student Affairs and the chancellor should have had to officially take a position on this issue,” said Hansen, a former swimmer for the UC Davis men’s swimming team, which the university cut last year.

Hansen said he initially created the ballot initiative because he believed administrators were not looking closely enough at the budget to give students confidence that their fees were appropriately spent.

“I was concerned because only the chancellor and the vice chancellor of Student Affairs get to see the budget, and they haven’t been responsible for showing the students what ICA is spending money on,” Hansen said.

Even before Zwald vetoed the ballot initiative, many members of the UC Davis community were critical of the implications of the board. A board such as this would undermine the effort of SSFACC, which votes on matters, including ICA spending, every quarter, said Emily Galindo, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs.

In addition, the Campus Unions and Recreation Board (CURB) currently meets monthly to oversee ICA spending. Eight students sit on the board, which is also chaired by a student and joined by three non-students and eight ex-officio members.

“I think [the ballot initiative] creates some redundancy,” Galindo said. “There are already student groups that are active with the different aspects of student-provided funds, and they provide input and advice. And they take that role seriously.”

Members of the ASUCD senate also felt the student government did not spend enough time examining the bill in the stages before it reached Zwald.

“The bill was rushed through commissions and senate in order to get the bill on the ballot this election cycle,” said ASUCD Senator Liz Walz. “While a lot of good amendments were made in the week that the commissions and senate saw the bill, it was not enough time to research and realize the full consequences of this bill.”

Despite the failure of the ballot initiative to reach the students for a vote, Warzecka said that ICA will create a more streamlined way of keeping students informed on budget processes.

“In the short-term, we need to communicate the roles and responsibilities of SSFAAC and CURB to students in general, and if improvements can be made in how these two student committees function, then we should consider making changes,” Warzecka said in an e-mail interview.

LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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