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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

ASUCD Senate holds annual budget hearings


Senators approve units’ budgets for the 2017-2018 year

With many hours of debate and discussion to come, the 2017-2018 ASUCD budget hearings opened on the evening of May 19 with an inspirational address from Associate Vice Chancellor Milton Lang. He expressed his hopes that the ASUCD members “be civil [and] be respectful” during the difficult work ahead of them.

He further addressed his hope for Student Affairs to not have to become involved in the budgetary process. His department has not been involved in the past and he expressed that he wanted this to remain the case.

Before starting discussion about units, ASUCD Controller Jin Zhang remarked that ASUCD begins with an operating budget total of $549,389. As budgets are approved, depending on if the unit will be giving or receiving a subsidy, this amount will increase or decrease.

The body then moved to address the budget for Creative Media. The proposed budget from Creative Media Director Alexander Park was approved unanimously.

The budget for Unitrans was then considered. Director Anthony Palmere remarked how important wages are to his budget, as he is trying to keep wages for bus drivers around 20 percent higher than minimum wage in order to retain employees. The Unitrans budget passed unanimously.

AS Dining Services was the next unit budget discussed. Director Darin Schluep also spoke about wages and how the the gradual minimum wage increase to $15 per hour is affecting his budget.

Discussion of the Coffee House budget then began. ASUCD Senator Daniel Nagey proposed increased discounts for students at the Coffee House, but Schluep said lines are already too long to distinguish between students and non-students. Schluep responded that Aggie Cash sales made up of 14 to 16 percent of overall sales when asked about Aggie Cash. ASUCD Senator Samantha Chiang motioned to approve Coffee House Budget for the year. The motion was seconded and budget was approved, and Chiang opened discussion of BioBrew budget. Schluep talked about how BioBrew was a new unit, but is doing fairly well and will return $35,000 this year. He projected a 5 percent growth for BioBrew including summer income. The BioBrew Budget was approved.

Discussion of Coho South budget began. Schluep said the CoHo South is also doing well, projecting a 5 percent growth and return of $20,000. Nagey motioned to approve CoHo South budget, which was seconded and approved, and Chiang motioned for a 15-minute break. After the break, admin general budget discussion began. The administrator general’s income stayed relatively the same as last year. Copy and printing was kept relatively the same, mail expenditure had gone up greatly, and transportation expenditure had decreased. Chiang motioned to approve the admin general budget and the motion was approved.

Chiang then opened discussion of the executive office budget. The executive office expenditure has increased due to mandatory salary increases but they have cut many of their special projects. Their budget was soon approved. Chiang started discussion about making the secretary of outreach and recruitment position a paid position. Chiang opened voting for whether to keep Picnic Day luncheon budget at zero or increase it to $1000, and the Senate voted to keep at the budget at zero.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Chiang motioned to approve the ASUCD president’s executive office 2017-18 income and the 2017-18 president’s executive office expenses. There were no objections to her motion, so the income and expenses were approved. Afterwards, there was discussion about executive office salary for a few minutes, but at 8:15 p.m. Nagey motioned to transition out of the executive office budget and move into a presentation for the 2017-18 STS Tipsy Taxi.

The unit director for Tipsy Taxi mentioned that the unit uses drivers from Unitrans and currently has a shortage of drivers. Chiang motioned to pass the budget and, with no objections, the budget is passed.

At 8:30 p.m., the presentation for the 2017-18 Bike Barn budget began. According to the director, the Bike Barn has an average of 10 mechanics at any time. Chiang asked if it is possible to reduce the number to 9, but the director said that it was not possible. Chiang then motioned to approve 2017-18 Bike Barn budget and the budget was approved.

At 8:45 p.m., the senate moved into the Picnic Day 2017-18 budget. As the senate motioned to approve the budget, Chiang objected. Because every other unit has been asked to cut positions, Chiang wanted Picnic Day to do same. She asked the unit to cut a position’s pay on the spot and make it a volunteer position.

“What’s going on with most units is that the total amount that we spend on salaries needs to decrease by 12.5 percent but each position will increase by 12.5 percent,” Nagey said. “So it’s the idea that you don’t, the idea being that right now most units have literally like two to three positions and it’s just tough because obviously we want to pay as many people as possible so I guess what we’re asking you is what position would you feel comfortable making a volunteer position just because every other unit is bare-boned and if we increase your total amount spent on expenses then we just have to cut every units even more because you’re not adhering to the 12.5 percent decrease of expenses like every other unit.”

After much deliberation, the unit was not forced to choose any position and Chiang motioned to approve the president’s proposed salaries, which passed 10-1-0, with Nagey voting no. After the unit director left, several senators took issue with having asked Picnic Day to cut a position on the spot.

Shortly after 9 p.m., the Internal Affairs Commission Chair Nick Flores spoke about deciding whether to pay Chief of Staff position. Flores brought up the previous Chief of Staff, Tiffany Lung, and argued that the only reason senate decided to cut her pay the previous year was because of her relationship with former ASUCD President Alex Lee. Flores advised that the senate should not let who a person is decide whether the position gets payed or not. Still, Flores suggested that the chief of staff position be unpaid.

“I don’t think the chief of staff of the executive office […] should be making as much as any commision chair on our table,” Flores said. “We all know the work that commission chairs do outside of senate. We have to hold office hours; chief of staff doesn’t have to hold office hours. They have to reply to emails occasionally. In my opinion, whether they want to make her do more work or not, it’s up to the position, like look at it as position-wise, not who holds it at the time.”

Afterwards, Chiang rebuked Flores’ argument that the previous senate decided to cut the position’s pay because of Lung.

“With all due respect, Nick, I completely disagree,” Chiang said. “Okay, let’s validate the argument that we didn’t want to pay last year’s chief of staff, Tiffany Lung, because of who she was. I was the one chiefly advocating for her to get paid because I worked under the chief of staff previously, and I stand by that. The chief of staff does so much work. They take the meetings when the president and vice president aren’t present. They go and help with every single thing.”

The senate motioned to decide whether the chief of staff position should get paid and the vote was 12-0-1, with Senator Marcos Rodriguez abstaining.

Afterward, the senate motions to approve the executive office 2017-18 president’s salary, and with no objections, the salary passed.

Next, a presentation for the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) 2017-18 budget began. With quick deliberations, Chiang motioned to approve the president’s 2017-18 WEF budget, and with no objections, the budget was approved.

The senate then moved back into 2017-18 executive office budget. The senate motioned to approve line items A and B for 2017-18 president’s budget, and with no objections, the motion was passed.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the senate motioned to move out of 2017-18 budget. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned.
On May 20, the budget hearing began with discussions about the $25,000 left over from senate reserves. The floor discussed how this money could be allocated to a unit of its choosing or put back into the net revenue. Senator Anastasia Ruttkay was absent and Senator Matthew Yamaguchi came in late.

The Aggie Reuse Store 2017-18 budget was approved with the hopes of implementing new positions.

Senator Julie Jung discussed the possibility of further discussing the salary for the position of chief of staff, questioning whether this position should be paid nearly as much as the commission chairs. ASUCD President Josh Dalavai mentioned that the amount of money that would be taken away from the chief of staff pay would have an inconsequential financial impact. Jung suggested meeting with the chairs of each comissions and hearing their point of view.

Next, the Housing Advising for undergraduate students’ presidential budget for 2017-18 was approved. Following that, the Refrigerator Services budget was also passed.

Next the floor entered a lengthy debate over the reduction of the Club Finance Council (CFC) funds. Discussion displayed that the members were very divided in their understanding and opinion on the matter so Vice President Adilla Jamaludin suggested a break during which the senators could informally discuss what each individual’s opinion was on the matter.

Topics discussed were whether CFC should receive more funds even though it reported having a surplus of funds left over. Other issues brought up were that CFC has displayed signs of not proceeding with their guidelines; however, they do provide grants for student clubs, and reducing their budget may not be beneficial to student organizations who would have to seek sponsorship from Pepsi instead.

The floor discussed that the money cut from CFC could go toward sponsoring culturally specific graduation ceremonies. However, Grewal pointed out that it is not necessary to cut CFC funds in order to give money to the graduation ceremonies. $45,000 was approved to be allocated to CFC, in addition to the $3,000 that they had left over, and $10,000 was distributed to support culture days.  

The KDVS budget was then called into question by Chiang, who noted that the budget had been amended. General Manager of KDVS Olivia Henderson explained that the change in budget would allow for more students to be involved in the news director position, an opportunity at KDVS for students to gain radio journalism experience and travel to Sacramento for reporting. Ultimately the KDVS budget was called into question for further review.

After a brief break, the ASUCD Experimental College’s (EC) budget was considered. Stacy Wong, director at the EC, came to the budget hearings on behalf of the EC. Immediately, senators and executive noted a discrepancy in funding, particularly a $10,000 decrease from the previous year’s budget. Wong attributed this decrease to the fact that two classes were cancelled due to insufficient enrollment. Mirov examined the past seven years worth of EC budgets and concluded that achieving $40,000 in course fees over the next year should be an attainable goal. Wong felt closer to $30,000 was more realistic. The table voted on what budget amendment they felt most comfortable accepting. Nagey proposed a compromise and moved to change the course fees budget to $35,000 which was unanimously passed. The budget with the amendment was passed.

The Campus Center for the Environment presented its budget proposal. The unit director explained how from last year, their income had increased and they successfully slashed their expenses. Nagey made a motion to approve the budget proposal. The motion was seconded, and the proposed budget passed unanimously.

Senate then took a lunch recess until 1 p.m..

After the lunch recess, The Aggie’s Editor-in-Chief Scott Dresser presented the 2017-18 budget for The Aggie. The budget had already been approved by the media board. Dresser began by explaining the changes from last year’s budget. Because The Aggie hired a full-time business manager, the projected income is higher and expenses have increased. There is more investment in advertising, printing costs have also increased and The Aggie is aiming to have two summer issues.

Business and Finance Commission Chair Alex Mirov asked about the discrepancy shown in online income reflected on the accounting system. Dresser explained there was a distinction made between national and local income and the money shown was money generated from local advertising revenue. The online ad revenue is projected to be higher for next year. Dresser also clarified that there was an error in the system and the income for April was not reflected, so May’s income would be inflated. April brought in $12,000 of revenue and May brought in $10,000.

Senator Michael Gofman asked whether The Aggie had any money in its reserves. Dresser said The Aggie has no reserves because of past debt. The Aggie is working towards debt repayment and Dresser estimated it should have $84,000 in reserves for next year.

Chiang motioned to approve The Aggie’s budget and the motion was seconded. The budget was unanimously approved with Ruttkay abstaining.

The Senate then took a 20-minute recess.

Experimental Community (EC) Garden gave their budget proposal. The ASUCD presidential budget was more generous than the EC Garden’s proposed budget. Unit Director Nick Campbell offered to take a salary cut, but the salary and maintenance budget was increased by $700. Campbell proposed $500 higher in projected income which was approved by the President, Vice President and Controller.

Chiang motioned to approve the president’s budget and the motion was seconded. The budget was unanimously approved with Ruttkay abstaining.

On May 21, the budget meeting was called to order at 11:29 a.m.  The meeting began by addressing The Pantry’s budget. In previous years The Pantry has not been asked to create revenue; however, since last year, the ASUCD unit has been working to become profitable. Rosy Martinez, a third-year human development major and The Pantry’s unit director, spoke about the Pantry’s need for a new hired position. The new position will be in charge of local food resources, fresh produce, running the social media accounts and overseeing intersectional workshops that aim to address the needs of students that The Pantry caters to. The new position will also be in charge of applying for grants to help further fund the Panty. Chiang vouched for the practicality of the Pantry’s budget increase, claiming that ASUCD’s budget had not allowed for any increase to the Pantry’s budget last year. Chiang moved to call the budget into question and was seconded. The Pantry’s budget was passed with no objections. The budget hearing took a 20-minute break to wait for the student Office of Advocacy and Student Representation (OASR) representative to arrive.

At 12:05 p.m.  the recess ended and the senate began discussing the 2017-18 OASR budget. The OASR representatives proposed a budget plan that included $10,825 for staff salaries, $31,000 for special projects and $17,002 for transportation. The proposed budget was substantially higher than the previous year’s budget, and as such numerous senators expressed concern about such a large budget increase for a relatively new campus organization. One senator stated that their proposed expenses were four times larger than the previous year’s budget. The OASR representatives countered by noting that they were the lowest funded OASR club out of any UC school by far. The representatives also listed off some of the projects they had organized from last year, which included the tuition hike protest and the sexual assault awareness campaign. The representatives stated that organizing club trips was extremely expensive due to numerous travel expenses such as food and gas. The OASR unit director Georgia Savage stated that many of the students participating in these trips were not very well-off and as such the expenses should be covered in the allotted budget.

The senators then took a vote with six voting for the proposed budget, four voting for the precedence budget and two, Gofman and Senator Simran Grewal, still undecided. Grewal stated that she voted for neither because she still had many questions regarding the large budget increase, and specifically the large increase in staff salaries. The OASR president responded by stating that the OASR staff was being paid less than minimum wage despite the fact that they dedicated a large portion of their time and energy to the job, and that many of the staff members were working other jobs. Another vote was conducted and this time the two undecided senators both voted for the precedence budget, rendering  the vote to a deadlock with six senators voting for proposed and six voting for precedence. Gofman then expressed his distaste at the $3,000 in the proposed budget allotted for food expenses, saying that the money should go to the food pantry for students actually in need of food everyday. He stated that when he went on school sponsored trips he would pay for his own food. Nagy interjected, stating that Gofman had privileges that many other students did not have. The moderator had to calm the senators down.

Chiang and Grewal agreed to some of the OASR commission’s goals while their budget was discussed, such as a food budget for lobbying and traveling conferences.

OASR members compared UC Davis’ OASR small budget to student advocacy groups on other UC campuses. However, Rachel Meyer of the Entertainment Council and other senators disagreed, citing the structural difference and size of UC Davis’ OASR.

The new special projects budget, $28,500, was ultimately approved with seven in favor, three against and two abstentions.

The Entertainment Council then presented its proposed budget, which passed. Meyers talked about May 20’s free concert for students called Lawntopia, which compounded $14,000 in expenses, but only earned $350 in sponsorship funding.

Gofman said he supported allotting the Entertainment Council more money to provide for more student-enriching concerts. Other senators disagreed and felt that student advocacy groups were more important and pivotal to helping the vast and sometimes marginalized student population.

The president’s budget for the ASUCD executive office was proposed and approved, with a representative mentioning how they need to maintain a strong budget to pay the secretaries they are currently in the process of  hiring. Gofman mentioned low voter turnout in the most recent ASUCD elections of “7, 8 [or] 9%” of students. Other senators agreed that more outreach will be needed to increase this low voting pattern, proving the office deserving of a strong budget.


Written by: Kenton Goldsby, Clara Zhao, Ivan Valenzuela, Lindsay Floyd, Jayashri Padmanabhan, Kimia Akbari, Eddy Zhu, Ally Russell and Aaron Liss — campus@theaggie.org


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