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Davis, California

Monday, July 22, 2024

ASUCD Senate fixes budget errors, allocates spare funds

A “misunderstanding” led to several ASUCD units budgeting for two directors rather than the singular one allowed


By VINCE BASADA — campus@theaggie.org


ASUCD Internal Vice President Aarushi Raghunathan called the May 30 Senate meeting to order at 6:14 p.m. After roll call, she read the UC Davis Land Acknowledgement.

The Senate began the meeting by rectifying an error in the budgets of several units. Several units had been approved to have two unit directors for the 2024-25 fiscal year, and she only later learned that due to payroll and personnel rules, units can only have a singular director, according to Controller Allyson Francisco.

She called the situation a “misunderstanding” between herself and ASUCD HeadQuarters Office Manager Paula Nichols, affecting the Entertainment Council, Whole Earth Festival, Aggie Reuse and the Campus Center for the Environment. These units’ directors were brought in throughout the night to rectify the issue and reopen their respective budgets, with most relocating the previously budgeted funds for a second unit director or assistant director role.

The Senate also reopened the student government budget to address a previous issue where commission chairs’ pay had not remained constant throughout the summer. The Senate amended this issue with Internal Affairs Commission (IAC) Vice Chairperson Zachary Bogglen representing commission chairs. Senator Curtis Chen also moved to increase commission chair pay to $18.50 an hour from the previously budgeted $18.00, pointing to remaining funds in the total budget.

After a short break, President Francisco Ojeda gave his spring quarter State of the Association. He started the brief speech by asking the senators present, “What is our favorite word? Impeachment.”

“Thanks for giving me time, for one last time, to have a state of the association; my last address from me to you all from the bottom of my heart,” Ojeda said.

Ojeda went on to congratulate the team behind Picnic Day for a “wonderful” celebration and the Entertainment Council for a successful Lawntopia, which he said was, “not really [his cup of] tea, [though] some people had fun.” He also acknowledged the Whole Earth Festival and said they made the right decision in moving the location to Hutchinson Field after the pro-Palestinian encampment had been set up at the event’s standard venue.

“[The] Senate should never interfere in a peaceful protest,” Ojeda said about the move.

He went on to mention the upcoming Pride Festival and The Pantry’s move to the space formerly occupied by Gunrock Gaming.

Ojeda also thanked Francisco for her work on the budget.

“While it was hectic, I think it went well and [smoothly],” Ojeda said. “It seems that needs were met this time around.”

Ojeda concluded with final remarks on the past academic year.

“I am not able to use the word ‘fun’ to describe this year,” Ojeda said. “I’d probably just use the word ‘fun’ to cut things short with you all.”

The Senate gave light applause before moving to review written reports from IAC and Housing Advising for Undergraduate Students (HAUS) before hearing the Housing and Transport Advocacy Committee (HTAC)’s quarterly report delivered by Chairperson Christina Smith, a third-year political science, public service major.

Smith noted that her team had recently transitioned into a project-based model in which volunteers individually focused on projects they were passionate about. Smith recently worked to get HAUS recognized for Davis’ Thong Hy Huynh Awards, which she called, “an excellent time,” and that, “The smile on [HAUS’] faces made [her] year.”

Smith went on to present the current projects of her team, joined at one part by Briane Abernathy, a fourth-year sociology major and HTAC student orientation liaison and tenant rights specialist. These included Abernathy’s own work in promoting bike safety and working on a new video for incoming first-years, as well as other volunteers’ projects such as increasing food diversity and getting a Yolobus line from the Memorial Union to Woodland’s Gateway Plaza.

The Senate then reviewed the written quarterly report of the Office of the Transfer Student Representative.

Following the arrival of The California Aggie Editor-in-Chief Sonora Slater, the Senate moved to approve The Aggie’s budget for the year. The unit and ASUCD had recently dissolved a Memorandum of Understanding allowing the former to absorb the latter’s debt. The proposed budget had been approved by the Media Board, though several senators had noted earlier in the night that they had issues with the budget to address with Slater. However, by the time she arrived, these senators, notably Jonathan Ng, were no longer present.

“Almost all of the money that is coming from ASUCD [for The Aggie] goes to student jobs,” Slater said after giving a brief introduction for the proposed budget, on which she worked closely with Controller Francisco.

With The Aggie facing lowering advertisement revenue, Slater noted that she was having meetings with next year’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Ponce and The Aggie’s Business Manager Laurie Pederson to discuss ways to increase revenue.

The budget was approved without contest, and the Senate entered a discussion about how to use its remaining funds. With Raghunathan’s support, mental health resources were added to the Health and Wellness line item. Senator Nur Ambaw then attempted to start a motion to increase Senate reserves, which ultimately failed.

“This year, I feel like we’ve been running out of money,” Ambaw said in defense of his motion. “I don’t think it’s right to limit senators’ potential by saying, ‘We don’t know have the money to do this.’’’

The Senate went on to amend the budget for the Club Finance Council from $113,000 to $152,000 and allocate an additional $5,000 to Cal Aggie Camp.

The budget was then briefly closed to hear the Picnic Day quarterly report, presented by Picnic Day Chairperson Bradford Martin, a third-year economics and psychology double major, and Vice-Chair Mina Saramn, a third-year statistics major. The pair say they are happy with this year’s festivities and hope to hold a “mini Picnic Day” event in fall quarter 2024.

The Senate then reopened the budget, with some $25,000 remaining to allocate. Ultimately, they would allocate $14,000 more to increasing accessibility, $9,000 for the Asian American Pacific Islander Night Market and $1,100 to executive branch special projects. With the budget finalized and complete, the Senate broke out into a short applause.

“Thank you for all your hard work,” Francisco said. “This slays. We did it.”

After public comment and ex-officio reports, the Senate moved to the introduction of new legislation: SB #92 allocating $1261.77 to the Office of Senator Ambaw for the purchase of eco-friendly water bottles. However, there was some discourse over if they were allowed to do so as Senator Ambaw had recently left the meeting on Zoom, and it was unclear if there were enough senators present to proceed with discussing legislation.

With the consent calendar passed and no previous legislation to discuss, the Senate moved to approve past meeting minutes and then to open forum. Raghunathan adjourned the meeting at 9:36 p.m.

Written by: Vince Basada campus@theaggie.org


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