Monday, May 20

Fee referendum on its way to spring ballot


After months of planning, the Associated Students of UCLA Board
of Directors approved at a special meeting Friday a draft of the
fee hike referendum that may show up in student elections in the
spring.

Now, the Undergraduate Students Association Council, the
Graduate Student Association and the chancellor must approve the
referendum draft ““ named SAFE because of its relevance to
students, activities, facilities and employees ““ before it
can appear on the spring ballot.

ASUCLA is proposing to start the increase of the student union
fee, currently at $7.50 annually, at the beginning of the 2006-2007
school year with a $12 rise. The fees would increase every year,
resulting in an annual student union fee of $55.50 by the 2009-2010
school year.

ASUCLA will present SAFE to the GSA forum Wednesday, but it has
not yet been determined when ASUCLA representatives will approach
the undergraduate student government.

“Because of the amount of involvement (GSA and USAC) had
in the process, I’m pretty sure they’re going to
approve (SAFE) as it is,” said Bob Williams, interim
executive director for ASUCLA.

Jared Fox, president of GSA, said that ASUCLA presented the
possibility of a fee increase in the fall forum and the governing
body seemed to be generally supportive of a fee hike.

“I think once forum understands what the fee is for and
why it’s important, they will … endorse the fee,” Fox
said. “Graduate students are students as well and benefit
from the services provided at ASUCLA.”

Williams is also confident that the students will approve the
fee hike in the spring after they are informed of its
intentions.

“The students on campus have a long history of looking out
for future students,” he said.

ASUCLA meetings conducted within the past few months have
brought together the Board of Directors, student government
representatives and the communications board in shaping the
language and terms of the fee referendum.

The student-majority ASUCLA board has budgeted the proposed
increase in its five-year forecast, and without it, ASUCLA could
find itself in a difficult financial situation. The university can
appoint administrators to the board if the association is not
financially stable, according to an agreement established when the
association took out an emergency loan in 1995 for renovations to
Ackerman Union.

A stipulation was added to the SAFE referendum stating that if
the structure of the ASUCLA Board of Directors should change, the
student body would have the opportunity to review the terms of the
fee by voting.

The referendum faced opposition from the On Campus Housing
Council earlier this year out of concern that dorm residents will
pay for services such as restaurants and programming that are
already available on the Hill.

In a Jan. 19 meeting between OCHC and USAC, the housing council
expressed its desire to increase the value of meal vouchers, which
allow residents to eat at on-campus restaurants, and said it would
not endorse the fee increase unless the voucher value was
raised.

But the council has changed its stance and has decided to
endorse the fee increase and put the voucher issue aside for the
future after the Board of Directors met with OCHC Feb. 8, said OCHC
Chairman Brad Stauber.

“We decided it would be in the best interest of the
residents for ASUCLA to be in control of the students,”
Stauber said.

Additional language was added to the supplemental ballot
information for the passage of the referendum stating the fee would
support increases to full-time and student ASUCLA employee wages,
construction projects and additional student programming.

According to SAFE, $100,000 could be added to the student
programming, making $325,000 available for student-generated
programming and providing Ackerman Union and Kerckhoff Hall
facilities at the lowest possible cost.

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