Sunday, November 17

Week four: High-rise opposed, Safe Ride hours requested, USAC surplus funds

(Left) Some students have suggested that the UCLA Safe Ride program extend its hours beyond weekdays. (Right) Members of USAC are currently working on figuring out how to allocate a surplus of funding. (Daily Bruin staff)

(Left) Some students have suggested that the UCLA Safe Ride program extend its hours beyond weekdays. (Right) Members of USAC are currently working on figuring out how to allocate a surplus of funding. (Daily Bruin staff)

This Week in the News serves as The Quad’s space for reflection on current events at and around UCLA. Every week, Daily Bruin staffers will analyze some of the most significant stories to keep readers up to speed.

As we are almost done with week four, many of us are probably swamped with midterms and assignments. In the midst of our busy schedules, here is this week’s news for us to stay on top of campus life.

Westwood groups oppose student high-rise project cite planning discrepancies

In November, two physicians filed to build a 16-story housing project called the Agora on Hilgard Avenue. The developers bought the existing property in 2016 and plan to tear it down to build the Agora after gaining approval from the city. Getting approval would take approximately two years, according to Agora spokesperson Aaron Green.

As of right now, the property is occupied by two businesses: NuORDER, an e-commerce brand company, and PodShare, a co-living affordable housing company. Construction of the Agora is said to take a total of three years.

According to PodShare resident Greg Billo, the proposed project is misguided as it would replace PodShare. The Agora plans to rent out beds at $1000 to $1200 a month and this is more than the $840 that PodShare currently charges per month. PodShare, however, is a pretty different type of living space from what the Agora would be — lots of PodShare customers really only rent the space for days at a time.

Other concerns regarding the project include traffic congestion due to construction and the exorbitant $100 million cost of the project, which is too costly for the proposed rent prices. Despite this, some UCLA students believe that this project would alleviate the issue of affordable housing in Westwood and increase the availability of student housing. However, due to the large scale of the project and the expensive budget, several students believe the Agora might not be very affordable after all.

USAC uses surplus funds for own projects, leaves the rest for student applicants

This year, $170,000 of USAC’s surplus funds of $424,885 were allocated to their own offices and $150,000 were allocated to programming funds. The remaining $104,885 of the funds are to be allocated to student groups.

USAC president Claire Fieldman said USAC is trying to find a balance with allocating these funds between their own initiatives and other student groups who are not part of the council. She also said $10,000 of the USAC surplus fund went towards funding her office’s UC women’s leadership conference.

Other allocations of the $170,000 USAC funds have gone towards funding a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., office renovations for the transfer representative office and the Financial Supports Commission’s Attire for Hire program. A suggestion to use the funds to install massage chairs at Kerckhoff Hall for the well-being of students’ mental health was voted down.

Academics Affairs commissioner Nidirah Stephens said her office is working together with USAC to create a transparent application for student groups to apply for funding. In order to receive funding, student groups need to fill out a formal application that will be evaluated based on a scoring criteria.

Students hope Safe Ride extends hours amid continued improvement to the app

Recently, students have suggested that the Safe Ride hours should be extended throughout the week. Currently, students are able to call a van pick-up service Monday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to midnight through the UCLA Safe Ride app, which was launched in Fall 2017 by the USAC Facilities Commission. However, some students believe it could be beneficial to extend the service to the weekends as some students may have extracurricular activities on campus.

UCLA’s Safe Ride service is unavailable Friday through Sunday due to lack of funding, according to UCLA spokesperson Katherine Alvarado. Since it’s a complimentary service, UCLA Transportation doesn’t reel in enough funds to extend the hours.

Other improvements that are being made on the Safe Ride app include calculating more accurate estimated arrival times, according to CSO program manager Matt Ellis. Ellis said having multiple riders with different destinations on each van makes it hard to predict ETAs, causing the app to predict longer waits and ride requesters to cancel.

Extending Safe Ride hours would aid in ensuring the safety of the campus community. This could be beneficial for students during midterms and finals season as many students would likely be studying on campus until the wee hours of the morning.

UCLA alumni, employees elected as delegates to California Democratic Party

UCLA alumni Isaac Bryan, Elina Antoniou, Wayne Liebman and two UCLA employees were among the 14 delegates elected to the California Democratic Party on Sunday. Bryan, Antoniou and Liebman were elected to represent Assembly District 54, which represents UCLA, Westwood, Culver City, Palms and other areas in West Los Angeles.

The delegates of the California Democratic Party are elected every two years and comprise of seven candidates who self-identify as women and seven candidates who do not self-identify as women. A total of 38 candidates ran for the 14 positions in Assembly District 5 this year.

Among the goals that Isaac Bryan, a policy adviser for the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, hopes to achieve as a delegate is to inspire politically underrepresented students and students of color to pursue their own political campaigns and offices. Antoniou, an attorney for the Bergman Dacey Goldsmith law firm and a former Daily Bruin staffer believes it is important for students to be politically engaged.

Similarly, David Bocarsly, who was also a candidate for the elections said that higher education and state government are intimately linked, something he realized during his time as a USAC president in 2013.

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Brenda Chan is a Quad contributor. She likes writing about fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and education.

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