Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE
Basic Needs and Services Referendum is crucial to preserving association’s future
Our basic services and student jobs are in jeopardy. That’s why students must vote on the Basic Needs and Services Referendum, which will be on the ballot in the 2020 ASUCD Winter Elections. The Editorial Board realizes that while students may be unaware of the full spectrum of amenities ASUCD encompasses, increased attention is necessary. If this referendum fails, students will suffer the consequences and lose services they may not realize fall under the jurisdiction of ASUCD.
Though the fine print of this referendum has yet to be released, its aim is clear: to raise the quarterly fee students pay to ASUCD by an estimated $26. While the concept of an increase may seem initially burdensome, it’s actually quite the opposite. Twenty-six dollars is a small price to pay for the continued ability to provide meals to food insecure students, keep coffee costs on campus low and maintain the supply of student jobs.
This fee, which currently rests at $8 per quarter, or $24 per year, has sat untouched since 1979, rendering it ineffective against harsh inflation rates. In fact, since the organization’s inception in 1915, the price has remained relatively steady — a stark contrast to California’s minimum wage, which has increased 31 times over the past 100 years.
While some ASUCD units generate revenue, others are programmatic or service-oriented. Some of the roughly 1,400 students who work for ASUCD work for the latter. Without this increase to the base fee, how can this non-profit organization continue to afford to pay those student employees and continue to put on events such as Picnic Day or the Whole Earth Festival? It can’t — and, without this increase, it won’t. These additional funds are an absolute necessity to sustain ASUCD, an organization that represents the livelihood of UC Davis, alive. Our elected officials have chosen this route because it’s the only feasible way to keep the organization afloat.
Less than optimal alternatives include accepting assistance from the administration, which would force ASUCD to forfeit its financial autonomy, or privatizing the CoHo, which would result in price increases of up to 300% and an estimated 80% reduction in student jobs.
The numbers speak for themselves — ASUCD’s current base fee of $24 per year is notably the lowest ASUC fee. Students at UC Santa Barbara, for example, pay $630 per year. UC Berkeley’s yearly base fee is $112, and the remaining campuses’ fees average around $174.09. ASUCD is simply asking for is a base fee that is on par with that of its fellow UCs.
To say that ASUCD is just our campus student government would be a gross understatement. Yes, the organization contains the Senate, Executive Office and Judicial Council, but it also houses 16 units, seven commissions and 12 committees. ASUCD brings big-name artists to campus, ASUCD fixes students’ bikes, ASUCD advocates for mental health and so much more.
Though voter turnout in ASUCD elections is usually dismal, the past shows that students will often support for matters that greatly affect them — seen through the 2019 ASUCD Winter Elections, when 35.63% of the undergraduate population voted on the Unitrans Undergraduate Fee Referendum. A voter participation rate of at least 20%, with 60% of those voting yes, is needed to pass all fee referendums, and our hope is that students will recognize the same sense of urgency for this matter as they did with Unitrans.
We care deeply about this referendum, and we hope that our readers feel the same way. When voting on the Basic Needs and Services Referendum, students have the chance to support not only ASUCD, but also their fellow students’ basic needs, student organizations, news sources, transportation methods and more. This referendum is your chance to intervene to save structures fundamental to UC Davis’ identity and community.
Written by: The Editorial Board
Correction: A previous version of this editorial stated that the raise to the quarterly fee students pay to ASUCD would be an estimated $28. That is incorrect. It is actually $26. The Aggie regrets the error.