In any government, whether it be on a macro or micro scale, turmoil is bound to brew– and our student government is no different. The Associated Students of UC Merced, more commonly referred to as ASUCM, has had their share of run-ins with conflict, but this semester seems to be of particular interest. On September 17th, Senator Grady Thomson resigned from the ASUCM Senate, and was quickly followed by Senators Jim Lopez Song and Angel Daniel Fuentes (both of whom submitted their letters of resignation on September 23rd). Thomson’s letter of resignation attributes his primary reason for leaving to not having enough time to appropriately serve and represent the students, something which he states is the ultimate purpose of ASUCM. He also brings to light some of the current conflicts within ASUCM, stating that Senators should not pursue passing legislation for their own self interests. In a similar vein, Jim Lopez Song’s letter of resignation stresses the need for ASUCM to improve, and to rise up from its disarray caused by conflict between peers. Additionally, Song highlights ASUCM’s lack of inclination to fund “historically underfunded organizations.” But, in possibly the most lengthy of the three resignations, Angel Daniel Fuentes uses his letter of resignation to tear into ASUCM, accusing them of creating a huge disparity between the funds given to SSHA versus STEM clubs and organizations. This caused an uproar in the student body, Senate, and social media alike, with misinformation and slander spreading like wildfires.
Below, we highlighted some of the key claims that were made in all of the back and forth battles, and explored the degree to which they were true or false.
Fact checking Angel Daniel Fuentes’ “Real Budget” analysis:
- Though the graphs are accurate in numbers, funding is presented in a skewed fashion.
- The increments of funding displayed on the y axis move in increments of 2,000 for the SSHA graph, but move in increments of 5,000 for STEM;
- This makes it look like SSHA is receiving disproportionately larger amounts of funding than is true.
- Per organization, “STEM” organizations actually receive more funding.
- When examining Angel Daniel Fuentes’ assertions, it is important to note that he listed 18 organizations under the title of STEM, while placing 29 under the umbrella of SSHA.
- When calculating the Total Pre Allocated Funds for each category, STEM receives (on average) $6,162.64 while SSHA receives $5,773.41 per organization.
- Note that in both instances there are several outliers which skew the data.
- Many of the STEM organizations receive more funds than are being credited in the data.
- There are a total of 17 organizations listed as being a part of Vanguard, a program which aims to connect and aid “the profession of engineering and the interests of individuals engaged in that field.”
- Out of the 18 organizations that Angel Daniel Fuentes notes in his analysis of STEM organizations, 15 of them are Vanguard members, a program which allows RCO’s to receive funding/support for their organizations.
- Although SSHA is in the process of forming Frontline, which is considered to be the up-and-coming Vanguard of the humanities, it has not been created yet, allowing STEM organizations an advantage in regards to securing funds (STEM can secure funding from more outlets as of right now).
- Every STEM organization that was listed as having received no money from ASUCM is affiliated with Vanguard and can therefore secure external funding from that source. The only organizations that were not in Vanguard were:
- American Medical Student Association (allocated $8,600 from ASUCM)
- Global Medical Training (allocated $12,000 from ASUCM)
- W-STEM (allocated $1,500 from ASUCM)
- Additionally, UC Merced is broken up in terms of Schools, which include Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, rather than being broken up into STEM and SSHA.
- There is no public record of what “school” clubs/organizations belong to so distinction of SSHA and STEM is very much up to individual interpretations (and is arbitrary).
Fact checking Angel Daniel Fuentes’ Resignation:
- “STEM students of this campus our silent majority of this campus”
- True. The Institutional Research and Decision Support (IRDS) website, UC Merced’s site where the analytics about the student population can be found, states that in the 2018-2019 school year, 61.6% of graduates received a Bachelor of Science, while only 38.4% received a Bachelor of Arts. Different data can be found on the UC Merced Population Statistics page, but the IRDS information is more recent and therefore more accurate.
- “…And all [ASUCM] represent[s] are themselves, disregarding the bills of many STEM clubs”
- While it is true that ASUCM Senators have historically been known to favor organizations which its members are a part of, out of the bills requested in support of STEM, the only ones that weren’t given funding were those which were already a part of Vanguard.
- “[ASUCM has] squandered more than half of the budget for the current school year funding festivals, carnivals, or events that are supported by social clubs and societies which are very selective and/or closed off to the General Student Body.”
- False. In ASUCM’s Financial Bylaws document from 2018, they state, “Events must be open to all undergraduates at UC Merced.” So, although it may be true that a majority of the funding is going towards social events, they are not allowed to be exclusive or restrictive as per ASUCM’s laws. Therefore, if there are actually any events that are being funded which are exclusive/restrictive in nature, they should be addressed by filling out ASUCM’s Grievance Form.
ASUCM Letter to the Student Body posted September 30th
ASUCM’s Legislation/Funding Update for Fall 2019 posted September 25th
Jim Lopez Song’s Resignation September 23rd, 2019
Grady Thomson’s Resignation September 17th, 2019
Angel Daniel Fuentes’ Resignation September 23rd, 2019