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USAC Facilities Commission reveals sustainability, funding initiatives in report

The Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Facilities Commission, located in Kerckhoff Hall (pictured), released its winter quarter transparency report. The report highlighted the commission’s current projects, hoping to increase awareness of their work. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Joan Thyagarajan

Feb. 14, 2023 11:24 p.m.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Facilities Commission revealed multiple upcoming sustainability projects to provide transparency to the student body in its fall 2022 transparency report.

The fall quarterly transparency report outlined new initiatives undertaken by the commission, which is responsible for ensuring the UCLA campus is accessible and sustainable, according to its website.

In the report, the commission described plans to bring reusable tableware to Kerckhoff Coffeehouse and Rendezvous dining halls and major decisions made by executive members of the commission, such as writing a resolution advocating for allowing students to choose the new associate director of the Center for Accessible Education.

Ragini Srinivasan, the internal assistant commissioner for FAC, said she believes even the cursory information provided in the report is a step in the right direction to demonstrate accountability.

“Students are paying a lot of fees that go into USAC,” said Srinivasan, a third-year mathematics/economics and political science student. “A lot of the time students don’t really know what their money is going towards. I think it’s just important to bring awareness so that they know that their money is being used for good things that will support the community.”

Phoebe Chiu, the USAC facilities commissioner, said she was responsible for allocating $52,000 of funding to campus organizations during fall quarter through the USA/BOD Programming Fund.

Though she manages thousands of dollars in campus funding, she said the report could not delve into the complexities of what the revenue goes toward.

According to Chiu, a fourth-year economics and psychology student, a historic number of organizations applied for funding this year, and the committee could only provide 14% of the money that had been requested.

The Programming Fund does not have strict guidelines, Chiu said, so the distribution was made at her discretion as long as the requests met basic requirements. The transparency report did not offer elaboration on the topic.

[Related: USAC funding delays increase stress, workload for student organization members]

Chiu also said the transparency report is meant to advertise the commission and its projects to students on campus.

“The main thing is that the facilities commission doesn’t always get a lot of spotlight,” Chiu said. “A lot of people don’t know … that there is a USAC office that is working towards sustainability and access and infrastructure projects.”

Taylor Sieverling – the project lead for Sustainagoals, the FAC project trying to implement reusable tableware on campus – said the commission normally doesn’t extensively promote projects that are still incomplete.

Many students may not read the report, even if they know it was published, said Cerys Edwards, a former member of the E3 Zero Waste Committee, a campus organization that encourages UCLA students to reduce and eliminate waste.

Edwards, a fourth-year geography student, added that she thinks it is beneficial to publish the report, regardless of its viewership.

“I feel like even if people don’t read, it’s important to have the transparency report, just keeping track of how they’re (the commission is) using resources, what they’re working on and make sure they’re on track,” Edwards said.

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Joan Thyagarajan
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