Monday, December 9

After long meeting USAC expedites formalities

What’s USAC?
USAC councilmembers tackled a hefty agenda during this week’s three hour meeting. At the beginning President Marwa Kaisey asked for presentations to be kept preferably under 15 minutes each. But as we all know, keeping things brief is not one of USAC’s strongest assets.
In the crowded room, representatives from the new Westwood North Village Neighborhood Council, Parking and Transportation Services, and the Office Space Allocation Committee spoke to kick off Tuesday’s meeting.
Associate Director of Parking Services Eric Lew provided the facts and figures about the future of parking, touching on topics from ramp repair schedules on Strathmore to increasing carpooling initiatives. Unfortunately, Lew also brought up a topic most detested by students: fee increases. He announced that parking permit holders will see parking prices go up in the next year to compensate for UCLA’s annual debt.
Next up to present was the fledgling Westwood North Village Neighborhood Council. Before starting, Directors Jesse Melgar and Steven Ly asked that laptops be shut down so that full attention could be directed toward the presentation. I guess they found the Facebooking and email-checking that was occurring at the table just a tad bit distracting.
Members of the neighborhood council stated that the purpose of the new student-run group is to create dialogue between and provide a voice for students, homeowners, and business owners of the North Village. The council members plan to distribute surveys on Bruinwalk next week to assess students’ concerns about parking, streetlights, and crosswalks in the area.
USAC approved a resolution to support and educate the campus about the new neighborhood council, but not before meticulously discussing the importance of placing the word “the” before the word “USAC” and changing the semicolons to colons in a clause of the document. USAC can always be counted on to cross their t’s and dot their i’s.
After Jason Mizzell’s presentation on the status of the office space allocation committee and its application process, USAC then began discussing the major issue of stealing supplies from the communal office spaces in Kerckhoff. Councilmembers contemplated installing video cameras or bolting the movable cutting boards and chairs to the floor, but in the end could not agree on an effective solution that would put a stop to the stapler-snatching and supply cabinet-looting.
External Vice President Tina Park concluded the presentations with her reports on the good, the bad, and the ugly facets of President George W. Bush’s budget for 2007 and its perceived impact on students.
I could sense that the long meeting was taking its toll on the councilmembers when they actually started clapping when it was announced that after nearly two hours of presentations, they could finally move on to new business.
Also on the agenda was a discussion of Academic Affairs Commissioner Nat Schuster’s proposal for bylaw changes in Article III of his duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately for Schuster, the discussion was delayed to next week’s meeting, but he didn’t let that dampen his spirits as he urged council to address the abuse of honorariums. Honorariums are stipends given to people who speak on campus. Schuster argued that honorariums to former USAC members should be replaced by gift certificates, since some former students abuse the honorarium system.
“There’s a huge loophole (for honorariums) and it’s been abused and it needs to be sewn up,” said Schuster.
Park countered with the idea that graduates who want to return to UCLA to speak to current students do not necessarily have the luxury to do so. She urged council to be more innovative about the way they were thinking so that their money can be used effectively.
Several councilmembers graciously offered to hold off on officer reports and presentations until next week to save time. As a result, the remainder of the meeting sped by with fund allocations being approved in approximately thirty seconds and the resolution sponsored by Internal Vice President Gregory Cendana, General Representative Carlos Saucedo, and Park in support of the United States Student Association 100 Day Agenda and National Day of Action unanimously being approved in under three minutes. That has got to be a record.

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