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Davis, California

Thursday, February 29, 2024

ASUCD grants money to community-specific graduations

At the ASUCD Senate meeting last Thursday, a bill that would increase the amount of funds granted to community-specific ceremonies was passed unanimously.

The bill (SB 89), which was revised from a previous version (SB 67), will distribute money to six graduation groups through the reallocation of unused reserves, as opposed to unused grants.

The previous bill attempted to allocate half of the loans from the Club Finance Council (CFC) and half from senate reserves.

The CFC provides about $80,000 in grants and loans to eligible and registered undergraduate campus organizations, but due to restrictions enforced last year by Student Affairs, department-sponsored student clubs and organizations are no longer able to receive ASUCD funding through CFC for events, according to the bill.

The bill expressed that due to recent incidents of hate targeting underrepresented communities on campus, the inviting environment of the university has been compromised.

“This has greatly affected the perception UC Davis has among underrepresented communities, and is a problem which must be rectified through re-establishing a safe atmosphere for these communities on our campus,” the bill stated.

The bill proposed that $1,457 from the REACH Retreat that did not take place, $5,543 from Senate Reserves and $4,989.46 from the dissolved ASUCD unit AS Papers be transferred to community-specific graduation ceremonies.

According to the author of the bill, Senator Jared Crisologo-Smith, the amount that was allocated is set at $10,000 (a $7,000 increase) for all six celebrations, which is about the same amount they had to lobby to receive from ASUCD in previous years.

“The money was literally sitting there serving no purpose,” he said. “I spent weeks making sure this bill was ironclad against any and all arguments anyone might have … With events like these, it seems as though some people search for any excuse not to grant funding. ”

Before voting, a number of senators had concerns that the bill was a spending bill, rather than a policy bill.  A policy bill would make changes to the budget or the way ASUCD conducts itself, while a spending bill allocates funds to groups to spend or is spent by ASUCD on goods. This bill would usually require a detailed breakdown of cost  and quotes.

According to Senator Patrick Sheehan, the type of bill would not have mattered.

“I try to refrain from basing important decisions on nuances in perspective. There were legitimate arguments brought up (and not effectively countered) that showed quotes (spending breakdown of each event) to be unnecessary,” he said in an e-mail interview. “This is also ironic because the original ethnic grads bill(s) set the precedent for our current spending quote requirements, a point made by Internal Affairs Commission Chair [Sergio] Cano.”

Senator Justin Goss said the bill rearranged the ASUCD budget internally by moving more funds to an existing line item. It also defined ASUCD’s priorities rather than an initial bill allocating funds for a specific purchase.

“In essence, the bill was the senate expressing their belief that ethnic graduations should be a higher budgetary priority, and the Association should be run accordingly,” Goss said in an email interview.

Goss explained why it was policy bill.

“This bill was unique because it involved both money and policy, and thus it was easy to confuse the two.  The main reason it was a policy bill is because there was already a small budget line item created for ethnic graduations last year; that was a spending bill,” he said.

Goss said the reason he believes the bill passed the second time was because it took money from less contentious sources and was infrastructurally stronger and also because members of the table who voted “no” the first time used the interim to learn the significance of cultural graduations.

Crisologo-Smith, Goss and Sheehan agree that Student Affairs most likely will not grant money toward ethnic gradations during the budget shortfalls.

“In this current budget crisis, everyone is looking for places to cut costs rather than give additional funding,” Crisologo-Smith said in an e-mail interview.

Because the bill was relevant to many students of minority backgrounds, Thursday’s meeting included many students who chose to participate to ensure the bill’s passage. During the meeting Goss argued that senators are elected by the student body and they must listen to their concerns.

“Because many students are apathetic towards the Association, it normally doesn’t play out that way and we’re left to vote with a vague idea of what the student body wants.  Thursday night was different, communities that cared about cultural graduations showed up to Senate and reminded us we were elected in part to serve and represent them,” he said.

Crisologo-Smith said he was ecstatic to see the bill passed unanimously, after he saw that the first attempt to assess the opinion of the senators only received six votes of support.

“After hours of arguing it became apparent that all arguments against this bill held no weight, and it eventually became useless for opponents to even try,” he said.

MUNA SADEK can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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