Students this week voted down a proposed fee increase that would have supported on-campus programs related to community service, diversity, retention and college preparation.
The Bruin Diversity Initiative, which was organized by students and placed on the ballot by thousands of petition signatures, would have increased student fees by $9.93 each quarter, including the summer.
The initiative was rejected by 52.1 percent of the vote in this week’s Undergraduate Students Association Council elections.
Revenue from the Bruin Diversity Initiative would have gone to six campus organizations – including the Campus Retention Committee and the Student Initiated Access Committee – five student group funds and the USAC external vice president’s office.
Several of these programs organize community service projects and provide student services like the test bank and free printing.
Students who did not support the initiative said they did not think several thousand dollars should go to a few organizations that do not involve all students.
“We already spent a lot of money on different fees,” said Lara Richmond, a third-year philosophy student who voted “no” on the initiative.
“I don’t fall in a lot of student groups (on the initiative) so I don’t think I should be forced to pay so that they have more money to spend.”
Richmond said paying for these specific groups shouldn’t be everybody’s responsibility.
Bruin Diversity organizers said the programs listed in the initiative need more funding because of increased student demand, higher costs and budget cuts.
Students and staff involved in programs that will benefit from the initiative are already paying out of their own pockets, and student jobs provided by some programs might need to be cut, said Theresa Tran, a second-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student.
Tran is also a member of the Higher Opportunity Program for Education, an organization supported by the Student Initiated Access Committee that was listed on the initiative.
“We’re suffering so much already,” Tran said. “(The initiative is) just to help people who want to make a difference in the community.”
Tran said the initiative’s failure would likely mean the number of peer counselors the project offers would have to be cut.
Many students said they supported the initiative because they thought it was a minimal fee increase for a good cause.
“I think it’s really important that we look after our fellow students,” said Priscilla Mapelli, a fourth-year international development studies student, who supported the initiative.
Last year, students also voted down the CURE referendum, which would have increased student fees by $9 each year for two student group programming funds.
The last voter-approved student fee increase was PLEDGE, which passed four years ago and raised fees by $12.75 per year. PLEDGE provided revenue to seven organizations, including the Student Initiated Access Committee, Campus Retention Committee and Community Programs Office – all of which would have received additional funds under the Bruin Diversity Initiative.
PLEDGE also raised revenue for the UCLA Communications Board, which publishes the Daily Bruin, and the UCLA Bruin Marching Band.
After the initiative’s results were announced many students erupted in cheers, while a small group of Bruin Diversity Initiative supporters clad in their green T-shirts stood silent, some in tears, others hugging each other.
The Bruin Diversity Initiative supporters said they were upset that students had passed the Bruin Bash Referendum, which will increase student fees by $1.33 to create a fund for the annual concert, instead of their own.
Belem Lamas, a fourth-year political science and Chicana/o studies student who supports the initiative, said she doesn’t take it as a loss because the she and other supporters were able to educate the student body about their programs.
“Tomorrow, life goes on, and we have work to do, and it doesn’t stop because we lost,” said Brittany Bolden, a fourth-year sociology student and spokeswoman for the initiative.