Two Sides Clash Over Proposed Student Fee
With two days of voting left, both proponents and supporters of the University Centers fee filed grievances alleging campaign mismanagement. Graduate Student Association political science representative Jeffrey Kwong, of the anti-UCEN group, filed a grievance on April 6 because he found out about available campaign funding after the pro-UCEN group.Written by Regina Ip
07 April 2011
Kwong spearheaded a campaign against the recently proposed University Centers Fee and CPI Referendum — which, if passed, charges students an additional $5 for a total $81.50 per quarter to support maintenance and operation of the Price Center, the Old Student Center and the Che Café.
In the grievance, Kwong states that the late notice about the $400 of funding available — which comes from vendors’ rent and is allocated by University Centers director Paul Terzino — for the pro and con campaign does not provide both sides the same amount of time to spend the money.
Kwong called for the elections board to order members of the pro campaign to stop campaigning.
“They’re just telling us, with two days left in the election, and it’s just not fair,” Kwong said. “We’ve been unable to use the money for a longer period of time.”
University Centers Advisory Board Chair Nicole Metildi, from the pro campaign, said she knew Terzino would be providing funds since the week prior and found out that the funds were accessible by April 4, but did not use the funds until April 6 to post $150 worth of flyers.
Metildi said a grievance was filed on April 4, against members of the con campaign because they were inserting flyers underneath the dorm doors.
“That’s considered dorm-storming because you don’t know anyone inside the dorms,” Metildi said.
Metildi said the elections board responded on April 6, when the con campaign was told to take down its website and was not allowed to campaign in the dorms.
The elections board is required to respond to a grievance within 24 hours, after which a decision will be made and a hearing determined.
Kwong said he has campaigned against the fee since March 27 because he feels it supports mismanagement and poor spending policy.
The campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness about the vote, and increase the percentage of students who would vote down the fee hike.
“Price Center is an important resource, but the issue is that in the last four years we have nearly doubled the fee,” Kwong said. “In the same four years, the administration hasn’t been able to effectively utilize our resources. We think there is significant mismanagement in the activity center resources.”
The team of students opposing the UCEN referendum maintains that this mismanagement includes poor maintenance of the space available in the Price Center, such as the spaces where Chase and Kaplan now reside.
“They let empty spaces stay empty for the three years,” Kwong said. “It’s great that they have new vendors now, but in October 2010, when Chase and Kaplan opened, they told us that with these new vendors the student fees wouldn’t increase. Within a few months, here we are again.”
Metildi argues that nobody claimed the fee would never increase.
“Vendors do help us keep the fee low in comparison to other UCs,” Metildi said. “But neither I, nor anyone else to my knowledge, ever stated there would never be another fee increase.”
Kwong also claims that space has been allotted to vendors that do not make money for the University.
“There are vendors in the student center, such as the food co-op, that unfortunately aren’t making any money,” he said. “We support student businesses, but it seems unfair that we have ask the students to subsidize those businesses.”
Metildi argues that the co-op is more of a resource than a money-making part of the campus.
“I do agree they aren’t a money-making enterprise, they are more of a student service,” Metildi said. “We’re still trying to work with the co-ops.”