|ASP Referendum to be on Ballot for A.S. Elections
INITIATIVE: Watson allows measure to go ahead after explanatory text is added
UCSD Guardian News
The Academic Success Program (ASP) Referendum, a fee initiative that would require all students to pay $1 per quarter to fund academic support services, was allowed on the A.S. elections ballot last week after Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph Watson ordered that an explanatory text be added to the measure.
The ASP referendum would establish a book-lending program, peer mentorships and tutoring for students. If the measure passes, ASP would have a budget of more than $42,000 per year.
A.S. elections will occur next week from April 7-9. The ASP referendum is one of two fee referenda -- the ASP measure and a $6.50 per quarter Student Activity Fee increase sponsored by the A.S. Council. The activity fee has not been increased from its current $13.50 per quarter level since 1983.
Changes in the activity fee may be placed on the ballot with a petition signed by 15 percent of UCSD undergraduates or a two-third vote of the A.S. Council. If a majority vote of 20 percent of students approve the referendum, it must then be approved by the UC Board of Regents in order to take effect.
On March 4, the A.S. Council rejected a motion to approve the ASP referendum by a vote of 5-9-1 after ASP backers submitted the referendum to the council.
"Some of the more informed individuals on the council were concerned that they had never heard of this program before," said Tony Fiori, A.S. Vice President Finance.
On March 9, ASP supporters submitted a petition with the signatures of more than 2,300 students. The registrar's office verified the validity of the signatures by means of random testing.
At a pre-election fee-referendum meeting on March 11, members of ASP met with Tom Tucker, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, Lynne Peterson, director of student activities and government, and Jamie Drozd, A.S. elections manager.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Tucker stated that the measure would not meet the regents' muster because there is no description of how the $42,000 would be spent.
On March 13, Peterson sent a letter to ASP stating that the measure would not be on the ballot because the wording was too vague.
According to Peterson, the text of the measure didn't define whether the administration or the A.S. Council would administer the funds.
However, Peterson later said that if it were clear that the funding would be overseen by the A.S. Council, the matter probably would not have come under administrative review until after the election.
Watson met with ASP members Irene Tabilin, Dudley el-Shabazz and Laarni Gonzales on March 19 to discuss the issue. At the meeting, the ASP members said the fee increase would be an A.S. constitutional lock-in fee and that the A.S. Council would oversee ASP financial expenditures.
Watson said that his main concerns with the measure are the fact that he and Chancellor Robert Dynes would not be able to defend it from legal challenges.
Watson stated in a letter that he would allow the measure to be placed on the ballot if an explanatory text was added reaffirming A.S. Council monetary policy.
After Watson's letter was sent to the A.S. council, Diallo reviewed the text of the explanatory statement written by ASP members. Diallo then sent a letter to Watson's office stating that the statement does explain A.S. monetary policy -- thereby allowing the referendum to go onto the ballot.
Fiori said that students should have the right to vote on issues.
"Its kind of scary that something like that this, that not many people know about, is going to voted on," Fiori said. "We'll leave it up to the students to inform themselves, and hopefully the literature that ASP is going to pass out during the election will be good and students know what they're voting on."