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USAC holds town hall to discuss allocating surplus funds to student groups

The Undergraduate Students Association Council held a town hall Tuesday night to receive feedback from students on how to allocate the council’s surplus funds. (Emma Skinner/Daily Bruin)

By Ashley Denktas

Jan. 30, 2018 11:54 pm

Correction: The original version of the headline accompanying this article incorrectly stated USAC allocated surplus funds to student groups. In fact, USAC held a town hall to discuss allocating the surplus funds. The original version of this article also incorrectly stated the Financial Supports Commission asked for $2,500 in funding. In fact, it asked for $5,200 in funding.

Students called on the undergraduate student government to allocate surplus funds to different campus groups Tuesday night.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council held the USAC Student Fee Surplus Town Hall to hear from various student groups vying for funds. The council learned earlier this month that due to a university accounting error, it had more than $149,000 extra funds to allocate. At their meeting last week, the council allocated $100,000 of those funds to the Undocumented Student Program, which provides resources for undocumented students on campus.

The council also considered providing funding to student groups by dividing part of this year’s $129,000 surplus.

Student groups at the town hall said funding should provide students food security and academic resources.

Students representing Hunger Project at UCLA, a student organization that provides food to the homeless, asked the council to allocate $23,000 dollars to fund the Bruin Dine program.

Bruin Dine is a new program that provides students with leftover UCLA dining hall food to fight food insecurity on campus.

Hunger Project members added the money would go to purchasing trays, utensils and cars to transport foods and provide students who are food insecure with access to fresh meals.

Students from USAC Financial Supports Commission asked the council to allocate $5,200 surplus funds to increase the iClicker rentals at Powell Library. The library offers around 300 iClickers every quarter, while more than 4,000 students take classes that require them, they said.

“iClickers would be a great investment because they can be used to help every student on campus,” said Sara Zaghi, a third-year communication student and member of FSC.

Thea Dunlevie, a third-year political science student and president of Young Americans for Freedom at UCLA, asked for $5,000 to $10,000 to host a conservative radio talk show host and speaker, Dennis Prager, on campus. She said the funding would cover Prager’s honorarium, travel fees and event expenses.

“Having Dennis Prager come speak about conservative values would show conservatives in a different light and facilitate intellectual discussion,” Dunlevie said.

Groups also called on the council to allocate funds to students from underrepresented communities.

Students from Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success at UCLA, an undocumented-student advocacy group on campus, asked the council to fund undocumented students’ lobbying efforts to Sacramento and advocate for legislation to support undocumented individuals. IDEAS representatives added they think it is important for undocumented individuals to interact with legislators because they think the current political environment is hostile to immigrants.

Representatives from the Neurodiversity Initiative asked for funding to create a neurosensitive room in the UCLA LGBT Center where students with conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia could get peer mentoring.

Nidirah Stephens, a third-year political science student and member of the Academic Affairs Commission, said she thinks the council should make sure the Neurodiversity Initiative, the UCLA Transfer Student Center and the Undocumented Student Program are equally considered for the funding because they provide students resources they need to succeed academically.

“There is a consensus among student groups to provide resources for these programs and departments (that) help retain students, so we want each group to have a chance at equal allocation funding,” she said.

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