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UCS discusses five referenda for upcoming elections ballot

Council also introduces resolution to provide funding for student groups, Greek organizations, program houses

The Undergraduate Council of Students heard three presentations about student group referenda, introduced two referenda proposed by UCS members and discussed funding for Greek and program houses at its general body meeting Wednesday evening. 

Due to recent changes to the referendum process, which were passed after last week’s general body meeting, student groups who hope to place a referendum on the ballot must gather 300 student signatures. UCS heard informational presentations from three student organizations who were able to obtain the necessary signatures. 

Two of the three presentations centered around recent efforts by the Class Coordinating Board and Undergraduate Finance Board to be recognized as co-equal branches of student government. 

CCB, a student organization that puts on campus-wide events, according to their website, stressed the magnitude of its role on campus during its presentation. 

Unlike most Category III groups at the University, CCB plans events such as the Gala and Breakfast at Midnight that consistently have more than a thousand participants, said Bree Zhang ’22, president of the Class of 2022 Class Board. 

The large scale of the events the group plans is also why, unlike other student groups, the organization operates on a lump sum policy model, under which it receives a lump sum of funding from UFB instead of funds allocated for specific activities, Zhang added. 

The group also stressed that another difference between its work and that of other student groups is that its leaders are elected by the student body. Like UCS, CCB requires candidates to obtain student signatures to run for positions on the board and have regulations around campaigning, said Class of 2023 Class Board Treasurer Sacha Sloan ’23. 

“Currently, there is no branch of student government whose sole purpose is to aid student organization and put on programming and make social traditions,” said Class of 2022 Class Board Vice President Melissa Cui ’22. “We believe that CCB can be the solution.” 

CCB also hopes that being recognized as a branch of student government will improve communication and collaboration with UCS, Cui added.

UFB, which currently functions as a subsidiary of UCS, also presented its referendum, which asks students whether they support UFB constituting its own branch of student government. 

Most students, when they vote for UFB chair and vice chair, expect them to be a separate group and not a subsidiary of UCS, said UFB Chair Akilesh Raman ’22. 

Additionally, making UFB its own branch will allow for better checks and balances between UCS and UFB, with each group being able to hold the other accountable, he added. UFB’s current existence as a subsidiary of UCS can hinder efficiency due to a constant back and forth between groups, Raman said.

The current language of the UCS bylaws and constitution give UCS “unfair power over UFB,” added UFB Representative Claire Brown ’22. 

Also at the meeting, Project Let’s Erase The Stigma presented its referendum, which would call for the University to maintain accessibility in classes by continuing the use of tools such as lecture capture after the pandemic. 

Measures that were introduced during the pandemic to adapt to virtual classes, such as course recordings for all, asynchronous learning and transcription services, have improved the learning environment for students with disabilities and those who are chronically ill, said Project LETS Co-coordinator Evan Dong ’22. 

Many of these services have also helped students who do not identify as either disabled or chronically ill, added Project LETS Policy Coordinator Rachel Lu ’23.

“If you’ve ever been glad in the past year that you’ve been able to rewatch a class or attend section or double-check wording … these are all the ways in which accessibility only improves student experience,” Dong said. 

Project LETS’ referendum, along with the other two presented by student groups, will be added to the spring ballot and voted on in the upcoming election. 

Two members of UCS also proposed their own referenda. The Council will need to vote on whether to place these referenda on the ballot due to their being proposed by UCS members. 

The first referendum, introduced by Chair of Campus Life Zane Ruzicka ’23, would ask whether students believe that there should be a Student Government Ethics and Accountability Board on the Council to “settle disputes through restorative justice on constitutional; interbranch and community; and elections and voting issues,” according to the text of the referendum. 

The referendum was introduced due to concerns about Council members interpreting bylaws in unfair ways, as well as the possibility of future disputes between potential new branches of student government, Ruzicka said. 

UCS President Jason Carroll ’21 also proposed a referendum asking whether students would be in favor of an amendment to the UCS Constitution that would implement “uniform transparency and accountability rules for the student body applied across student government,” according to the referendum text. 

“This really came as a result of a lot of concerns and, frankly, frustrations with transparency and accountability regarding student government as a whole,” Carroll said. 

Among other obligations, the amendment would require branches of student government to release reports on student activities and financial information, announce vacancies in elected positions and share how they are filled, report voting tallies and meet, at a minimum, monthly, Carroll said. 

Carroll hopes that these set of rules would apply to all forms of student government, particularly as new branches may emerge. 

UCS also introduced a resolution that would allow Greek organizations and program houses to receive funding from UFB. 

The resolution, which was introduced by Parliamentarian Zanagee Artis ’22, calls for UCS to “establish categorization for individual Greek organizations (alongside the current Greek Council and Panhellenic Council) consistent with the privileges afforded to Category III student groups as designated by the Student Activities Committee of UCS,” according to the text of the resolution. Category III student groups may receive more than $200 from UFB.

Brown also noted that Greek organizations would be eligible to go through an expedited student group recategorization process that could allow them to become Category III groups without the UCS resolution. 


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