Guest Opinion: ASUCD can operate more efficiently without Shared Service Center

I read with interest the article on taxing ASUCD $235,560 for the university-mandated Shared Service Center based on processed transactions. Inevitably, the state budget crisis was bound to create ethical challenges for the University administration. Here we go.

Unlike any other unit on the campus, ASUCD fees can only be raised after a student vote. This has helped keep the ASUCD general fee at $8.00 per a quarter since it was last raised in 1978. Unitrans, a unit within ASUCD, has raised its fee three times in the last 32 years; each increase followed a vote of the undergraduate students. On the other hand, the University can raise fees via the UC Regents without a student vote.

Because of the lack of state resources, the university seeks to make monetary cuts from campus units. As a result, the University administration wants to tax ASUCD $235,000+ to help offset state budget cuts.

In order to pay this tax, ASUCD student leaders would have to take resources from ASUCD fees that were previously voted on by students to go to specific areas or the $8.00/quarter general fee. Whether referendums or ASUCD fees, is there an obligation to honor past commitments by campus administrators who guaranteed to students that there was a legal and moral obligation to follow the provisions within each fee increase vote?

For the purpose of this article, let’s not focus on the potential loss of hundreds of student jobs, a 42 percent cut to annual cultural days, devastating cuts to Unitrans, the impact on the Coffee House or a myriad of other potential impacts to other ASUCD units. Rather, we have a situation where the University administration mandates that ASUCD pay a $235,560 fee for which they receive NOTHING.

The University administration additionally wants to fold ASUCD into this “efficient” processing of payroll and payables through the Shared Service Center at a cost of $384,249 for 2012-2013. ASUCD, however, only pays around $150,000 to process these same transactions. In other words, the Shared Service Center is more than two and a half times more costly than the current decentralized system that ASUCD already manages itself. Because ASUCD can achieve the same results as the Shared Service Center for less than half the cost, the University administration should exempt ASUCD from paying the $384,249 if the issue is truly about efficiency.

A press release from the University Communications office in February of 2011 stated that the efficiencies from the Shared Service Centers will save $39 million between 2010 and 2015-2016. Is the $39 million really from efficiencies or generated merely by charging ridiculously high assessments (taxes) to campus units?

The University needs to stand up for efficiency and exempt ASUCD from the Shared Service Center concept, as well as the $235,560 tax.  Taxing a large sum of money to ASUCD under the guise of “efficiency” and taking that money from fees voted on by students for specific purposes is not ethical or efficient.

MARK CHAMPAGNE retired from the position of ASUCD Business Manager in June 2011 after 32 years of service to UC Davis. He can be reached at his e-mail address, which happens to be the UC Davis school fight song: aggiefight@yahoo.com.

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