The undergraduate student government approved the addition of a referendum to the upcoming elections ballot Tuesday night that would increase student fees by $12.75 per quarter if passed.
The referendum, called Practicing Leadership and Empowerment to Develop Growth thru Education, was brought to the council by a team of representatives from seven student organizations.
The organizations consisted of the Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President’s Office, the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, the Community Programs Office, the Campus Retention Committee, the Student-Initiated Access Committee, the Student Risk and Education Committee and the UCLA Communications Board.
The referendum organizers assured councilmembers that many students benefit from the services offered by those groups who will receive the additional funding.
Cultural Affairs commissioner George Chacon said he considers the funding important because of the support it offers to various campus programs, such as the Student-Initiated Access Center, which helps disadvantaged students prepare for college.
Though the general attitude in the room was one of support to pass the resolution, councilmembers did express concerns about increasing student fees.
“It is a very difficult time for students right now, and I just don’t think we should ask them to approve increasing their fees,” said Monica Kohles, a general representative.
Meanwhile, General Representative Natalie Gonzalez questioned how the money will be allocated.
“One of the most important aspects to me was educating students on where the referendum money would be going,” Gonzalez said.
And Finance Committee Chair Parsa Sobhani expressed frustration at the lack of attention to USAC programming funds in the referendum’s allocations.
“Every spring quarter we fall short and almost run out of money. I can’t give out any more money to contingency (allocations),” he said.
Councilmembers agreed with Sobhani’s concern, but referendum representatives said that amendments to the referendum would require a tedious process.
Gonzalez said she agreed that funding for programming should be discussed and continued questioning the referendum’s representatives, but the conversation was interrupted when Financial Supports commissioner Elaine Reodica called for an immediate vote.
The referendum was passed a council vote of 11-1-0, with one opposing vote by Gonzalez.
“I did not vote against the referendum because of its content; I felt it was a disservice to council and students in general to rush the vote,” Gonzalez said.
The referendum will appear on the ballot in May for a student vote.