Wednesday, September 18

“˜Friend of the court’ filed for JSU’s case


Dissatisfaction with the undergraduate student
government’s budget process has led to an unlikely alliance
between two politically divergent leaders.

A new document regarding student group funding has been released
in the case between the Jewish Student Union and the Undergraduate
Students Association Council, which brought the council’s
funding allocation process into question. General Representative
Josh Lawson filed an amicus curiae ““ “friend of the
court” ““ brief on behalf of JSU.

JSU filed a case with USAC’s judicial board last quarter,
requesting more base budget funding. The hearing is scheduled to
take place third week.

Lawson’s document stated that the student group funding
process created by council is filled with politicization.

Lawson shows his support for JSU three months after he exhibited
political and ideological differences with JSU President Gideon
Baum. The disagreement caused Lawson to cut ties with the Students
United for Reform and Equality slate, a slate he and Baum had
headed.

Also frustrated by the lack of base budget funding he received
from council, Lawson cites what he feels are shortcomings of the
budget process.

The budget process is based on a point system, in which groups
requesting funding receive a certain number of points based on
criteria such as retention and outreach. The process was created by
this year’s Budget Review Committee.  

But, as the brief alleges, the process was afflicted by bias
when certain groups receiving the same number of points were not
allocated the same amount of money. 

“Problem is there is no fixed value of what a point
meant,” Lawson said. “There was no direct correlation
between the amount of money given out and the points
earned.”

JSU representatives added that the criteria used to review the
proposal, such as retention, was too narrow, maintaining that
retention is not a “one-size-fits-all” endeavor.

According to the statistics stated in the document, members of
the Students First! slate received more dollars per point, while
members of the SURE slate received less. Slates, likened to
political parties, are coalitions of students who help each other
win seats on council during elections.

This year’s council has a slate majority with most of its
councilmembers from SF!. Lawson was a member of the SURE slate at
the time of the funding process.

Priscilla Chen, finance committee chairwoman and member of the
BRC, said she saw no politicization in the funding process. Chen
said every group was given the same opportunity to present their
proposal, and was asked the same questions. Chen was appointed by
President Anica McKesey, a member of SF!.

Internal Vice President Allende Palma/Saracho, a member of SF!,
said the committee was diverse in terms of ideology, and the
process was fair.

“We unanimously as a council agreed to standards for the
BRC, and thoroughly went through each criteria to be used, and
nobody had a problem with it,” Palma/Saracho said.

Faced with SF! domination, Lawson believes it is his
responsibility to help JSU, a student group that has in the past
been affiliated with SURE.

Lawson said even with his past with the slate, he is helping JSU
as he would with any other organization.

“All (my office) wanted to do was give one of UCLA’s
student groups the fighting chance at voicing their concerns about
the budget,” Lawson said.

Baum said the relationship between the two is purely
professional, and when Lawson left the slate, it ended their
political relationship. Lawson added he will continue to support
JSU regardless of their affiliation with the slate.

“There are tensions (between us) that could’ve
inhibited the process, but we were able to put that aside to
promote what we hope to be a positive step,” Lawson said.

Lawson is widely expected to be a candidate for the presidency
in the spring 2004 elections.

But Baum, once expected to run for president with SURE, said he
is not planning on running and would rather work with JSU. With
Lawson separated from SURE, and with the slate only having one
voting member on council in Financial Supports Commissioner Erica
Husse, the future of SURE itself is still in question, Baum
said.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.