Thursday, February 22

[A closer look] Graduate students push for SAFE passage


Graduate student leaders are urging the passage of the SAFE
referendum, citing the direct benefits of a student association fee
increase for graduate students.

The SAFE referendum, named for its relevance to students,
activities, facilities and employees, would increase student
association fees to go toward construction and renovation projects,
increases to student-worker wages and increases to student
programming.

The majority of the fee increase would go toward capital
projects like the construction of a South Campus Student Center to
replace the Bombshelter and renovating the Cooperage on Ackerman
Union’s A-level, said Richard Delia, finance director for
Associated Students UCLA in an April 7 Daily Bruin article.

Facility upgrades are especially important to graduate students
who may spend all day on campus, said Dorothy Kim, graduate
representative on the board.

“You have graduate students living in their labs,
practically,” Kim said. “They would like to have a
decent place to relax, to get out of their labs, their libraries
and their study rooms.”

But the promise of bigger, newer facilities fails to draw some
graduates toward supporting SAFE.

“I’ve got my office, so that’s my place to
work,” said Joohyon Kang, a civil and environmental
engineering graduate student. “I don’t spend any time
(at the Bombshelter).”

Some of the Graduate Student Association’s current
programs, like the Environmental Coalition and Melnitz Movies, will
probably not receive any additional funding because they already
receive enough support, said Jared Fox, current GSA president, who
is also running for re-election.

“I’m sure additional funds would be put into similar
services,” Fox said, noting that additional funding could
potentially be made to GSA’s discretionary fund, which is
available to any graduate student group.

In order for the referendum to pass, over 50 percent of voters
need to approve the fee increase. Furthermore, at least 20 percent
of undergraduate students and 10 percent of graduate students must
vote. In addition to capital projects, the fee referendum would
increase the amount of funding for student programming by adding to
the interaction fund and the waiver pool.

Currently, the waiver pool, which is a fund available to any
group registered with the Center for Student Programming, is
$125,000 a year to allow groups use of Bruin Plaza, Ackerman Union
and Kerckhoff Hall.

According to the center, there are 775 student organizations
recognized by CSP ““ 147 of them are graduate-student based,
459 of them are undergraduate based and 143 of all CSP groups cater
to both undergraduate and graduate students.

“If you’re in a graduate student group or a mixed
group, you’re going to be happy,” Kim said.

The interaction fund allows the undergraduate and graduate
student governments $100,000 a year to go toward programs like
Melnitz Movies and the undergraduate student government’s
Campus Events.

Two-thirds of the interaction fund goes toward the undergraduate
student government, while the remainder is allocated to the
graduate student government.

SAFE proposes to add $100,000 to both the funds, making a total
of $325,000 available for student programming. But how that extra
$100,000 would be divided among the two funds is not specified in
the fee referendum’s language and will be determined by the
board in the future, said Bob Williams, interim executive director
of ASUCLA.

“The intention of the board is for the undergraduates to
benefit two-thirds and have the graduates benefit one-third,”
Williams said.

An increase to the waiver pool and the interaction fund is going
to be good for all students, Fox said.

“Any graduate student group and GSA can use waiver pool to
get a free room,” Fox added. “It’d be really
great for students.”

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