At an Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD) senate meeting last month, the senate table did not pass a bill which would have granted funding from the Club Finance Council (CFC) and the REACH event line item to specific ethnic celebration groups.
The bill received a vote of 7-5, short of the two-thirds majority ASUCD spending bills require for passage.
Ethnic graduation celebrations have taken place since 1984. In addition to attending the commencement ceremony for a particular college, students of ethnic or minority groups are given the opportunity to celebrate their graduation by inviting around 30 guests per student. Last year, during the Chicano/Latino graduation celebration, 162 graduates participated with approximately 2,500 guests.
As stated on the Chicano/Latino graduation celebration website, the first ethnic celebration, in 1984, was held by the University’s Chicano/Latino department to foster a sense of accomplishment and develop a culturally relevant opportunity for students to recognize their friends and family within a historically underrepresented ethnic group. Celebrations would usually include student and keynote speakers and cultural entertainers.
Among these ethnic/minority celebration groups are Black, Southeast Asian, Filipino, Native American and LGBT student organizations, which are open to all majors.
“The Chicano/Latino Graduation Celebration is a powerful motivator in helping students persist to graduate at Davis,” said Alma Martinez, staff advisor of the Chicano/Latino graduation celebration. “Students have the opportunity to speak to their guests in their language of choice.”
Graduation celebrations are usually granted loans from the Club Finance Council (CFC), which provides about $80,000 in grants and loans to eligible and registered undergraduate campus student organizations.
However, this year ethnic graduation celebration groups were not able to ask for money from CFC, as a new rule states that any group that is department-sponsored cannot receive funds from CFC.
According to ASUCD Senator Jared Crisologo-Smith, this rule was enforced this year.
“After last year they were cut from those funds. So last year the [ethnic graduations groups’] only resort was senate reserves, which only a couple of them came to actually get,” Crisologo-Smith said.
Prior to the new rule, many ethnic graduation celebration groups came to the ASUCD senate to obtain necessary funds for their events. Former ASUCD Senator Miguel Espinoza said many of the ethnic groups are pushed toward requesting for smaller amounts than required.
“Every year ASUCD struggles to validate why they need these funds,” Espinoza said.
Among the senators who voted no on the bill, some felt that taking money from CFC was inappropriate, as doing so would be taking away funding opportunities for other clubs.
“I personally see ethnic graduations having so much merit, but it is not the role of senate to say that one event has more merit than another and no matter how much funding I would like to give to ethnic graduations, I cannot do it at the cost of another group or organization on campus,” said ASUCD Senator Erica Padgett, who voted no on the bill.
Last year, senate bills 86, 87, 88, 89 and 101 were brought to the table that would allocate $1,165 to the Chicano/Latino celebration, $517.23 to the Filipino/a celebration, $345 to the LGBT Lavender celebration, $500 to the Native American celebrations and stoles and $607.18 for the Black celebration, respectively. Only SB 87 and SB 101 were passed.
Crisologo-Smith said that he would like to institutionalize the money that ethnic graduations receive from senate.
“We want to earmark them with the money that we are going to give them so that they know its there, so they don’t have to come and ask for it,” Crisologo-Smith said.
At the senate meeting on Feb. 23, Crisologo-Smith introduced Senate Bill 67, to transfer funds to the “CCC/LGBTRC Community-Specific Ceremonies” line item from the “Club Finance Council” line item and the “REACH Retreat” line item in the 2011-2012 Grants Budget.
Crisologo-Smith said he attempted to move money from the grants budget from one part of the ASUCD budget to another part to preemptively give ethnic graduation celebration money.
The total amount of funding that the celebrations received in 2010 from senate reserves and CFC, which is also funded by ASUCD, was under $10,000.
The bill would have taken money from CFC reserves and also from the REACH Retreat, an event organized by the Cross Cultural Center and the LGBTRC, which did not take place. The funds from the event would then go into community-specific graduations, according to Padgett.
$3,000 had already been granted to ethnic graduation groups last year, which carried to this year. Crisologo-Smith said he sought to amend a line item from $3,000 to $8,000, whereby funds would be transferred from the CFC line item to the LGBTRC graduation celebration ceremonies line item, from which ethnic celebrations receive their funds.
“I had originally written a bill giving them funding from CFC, because it was already in the grant’s budget and I thought it was the most innocuous place to take funding from, but a lot of the senators objected in saying that it was hurting campus clubs by moving funds away from CFC,” he said. “I was trying to give them a set amount for money before the events occurred.”
Many senators agreed that taking money from the REACH event that did not happen was acceptable. However, they differed on where they thought the the rest of the money should come from. Many had issues with taking money from CFC, especially if it meant that other clubs would have access to less money.
“For me that is fine if an event does not happen and you just have money floating there, I would prefer for it to be put toward something that is going to be happening,” Padgett said.
Regarding funding coming from the CFC, however, she disagreed.
“Since this money had already been earmarked for the Club Finance Council, that is their money and you cannot take it from them. The fact that Don Ho, the controller, said that had he been able to vote on this bill, he would have voted ‘no’ because it takes money from CFC is huge.”
Vice President-elect Yena Bae voted “no” on the bill, and said she did so because she did not agree on where the money was coming from.
“There is no question in terms of the merit of the events … I agree that ASUCD should financially help fund these events; however, I believe that it would be more appropriate to come from senate reserves rather than CFC. The pool of CFC money is the only place where any registered club can seek funding and CFC has limits in the grants that they give out per year,” she said.
Bae said she believes that it is impossible to secure a long-term funding for any grant item due to current ASUCD budget issues.
“For now, with the restriction that they are facing with CFC, we need to be creative in finding new places for funds,” she said.
At the senate meeting on Feb. 23, a plan was constructed to allocate half of the funds from senate reserves and half from CFC. It was not approved; a last-minute decision from one senator stopped its passage.
Crisologo-Smith said he plans to continue working on the issue.
“It was a very contentious debate; it lasted a few hours in senate … moving forward, I’m going to rewrite the bill and reintroduce a similar bill very soon, and hopefully take in money from sources that the senators can all agree upon,” Crisologo-Smith said.
MUNA SADEK can be reached at email@example.com.