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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLADance Disassembled: Seeing Beyond the Curtain

Graduate Writing Center awaits fate of referendum to alleviate deficit

By Stephen Stewart

April 16, 2013 1:16 a.m.

The original version of this story contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.

The Graduate Writing Center will no longer be able to hire graduate student writing consultants using “return-to-aid” funds, university officials said.

The university recently announced plans to cut the revenue for the center, which is already in financial difficulty, from about $90,000 to $60,000 starting next year.

In the past week, graduate students voted on a referendum in the Graduate Student Association election that would increase the student fee funding the writing center by $1.50 per quarter.

If passed, the referendum would remedy some of the budget deficit the center faces. The referendum needs a 10 percent voter turnout to be considered.

The GSA election results are expected to be released later today.

The referendum was created before GSA was aware of the change in the center’s funding, said Nicole Robinson, the GSA vice president of academic affairs.

The UCLA Office of Academic Planning and Budget analyzed the center’s funding last month and decided to make the $30,000 reduction, said Samuel Bersola, assistant vice provost of the UCLA Graduate Division.

Graduate student fees fund the writing center’s operations. Of those fees, a certain portion is labeled as “return-to-aid” and must be given back to the graduate student population, such as through fellowships, Bersola said.

The writing center has been using this portion of the graduate student fees to hire graduate students as writing consultants to lead workshops and tutoring sessions, Bersola said.

The UC Board of Regents requires “return-to-aid” funds to be given to students for free, not earned, Bersola said.

Graduate students work for a stipend at the Graduate Writing Center, which Bersola said goes against the regency policy that students must be given the “return-to-aid” money.

“We need to follow regential policy. We can’t make students earn money that should be free,” Bersola said.

Every year, the Graduate Writing Center makes 2,000 appointments and hosts various workshops for graduate students, said Christine Wilson, director of the Graduate Student Resource Center.

Due to its high use, the writing center has been operating off of surplus funds generated when it first opened, Wilson said. The center currently has a $30,000 deficit between its revenues and expenses, she said.

Subtracting the graduate student “return-to-aid” fees from its revenue, the center will face a $60,000 shortfall next year.

If passed, the GSA referendum would alleviate roughly $30,000 of the shortfall, Wilson said.

“It’s huge,” Wilson said. “Pretty much we are 100 percent staff and there is not much to cut but (our) services.”

The Graduate Division is working with the Graduate Writing Center to help replace the expected void in its funding stream, Bersola said.

One possible solution would be to go through the Student Fee Advisory Committee, as they recently submitted a proposal asking for $30,000, Bersola said.

“We are very supportive of the Graduate Writing Center,” Bersola said. “We are going to come up with a creative (solution).”

Correction: The university recently announced plans to cut the revenue for the center, which is already in financial difficulty, from about $90,000 to $60,000 starting next year.

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