Letter reveals controversy regarding athletics funding

Jasmin Bodmer

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“We, as athletes and supporters of De Anza athletics, are facing a dire situation.”

Thus begins a memo that recently surfaced in the PE and Athletics department amidst the DASB 2001-2002 elections and addresses “athletes, coaches and fans of De Anza athletics.”

The letter, penned and distributed by current DASB senator and vice president of finance candidate Brett Jensen, petitions for support and comments on alleged funding policies of the Student Alliance, a group of politically like-minded students running for senatorial positions.

The memo states that a “group of students running for positions in the De Anza Associated Student Body Senate election next week will eliminate most of our funding if they are elected.”

Jensen identifies that group to be the Student Alliance and defines them as “a group of five current senators that have recruited puppets to run for every position available in the election” and who “seek to control the entire $1.2 million DASB budget next year and funnel it into programs over 95 percent of the student population opposes. They have voted against funding of any sort all year and will continue to do so.”

Despite ardent criticism from Student Alliance, Jensen said he would stand by the comments he has made in his letter.

“I just don’t like the idea of having political parties on campus,” said Jensen.

Candidates associating with Student Alliance rebuked the allegations.

“It’s completely sick,” said Colleen McGuire, candidate for VP of Student Rights and Services.

“I worked for about one and a half months to get $950 funded for the PE department’s weight room to get a new stereo system.”

Geraldine Garcia, current VP of Finance and candidate for the same position as Jensen, said that the letter was deeply inaccurate.

“We didn’t eliminate any of their funding. If we were going to be against funding, we would’ve been opposed to the budget for next year. It passed unanimously [in the Senate].”

In his memo, Jensen also stated that he had worked closely with Athletic Director Al Vacio and Dean of Physical Eduation Ron Warnock as well as many of the coaches and athletes to “ensure that the athletes are not left behind.”

Garcia, who’s also chairperson of the Finance Committee, said Jensen had devised a funding plan that would distribute $100 for each athlete in the PE/Athletic Department. Coaches received an amount that corresponded to the number of athletes the coaches had declared earlier.

Garcia said that even though the football coach ordinarily only counts 59 players, the number of athletes submitted was 100. “What Brett Jensen actually did was end up giving them $10,000 for 100 players when they don’t even have 100 players. So when he was saying that he’s funding athletics, what he was doing was funding football.”

According to Garcia, the Finance Committee unanimously voted in recent Finance Com-mittee meetings to support funding the Track and Field team and a sound system for the general gym, among other items.

In addition to references to financial policies, Jensen also states that “we must ensure that every athlete votes, even if that means taking ten minutes out of class, practice or meetings and sending them to the polls.”

The letter concludes with a list of candidates that “strongly support De Anza Athletics and will raise funding considerably.”

Aside from Brett Jensen, the list also includes presidential and executive vice presidential candidates Shirin Darbani and Usman Shakeel, VP of Administration candidate Celina Perez and VP of Marketing and Communications candidate Farnaz Kermaani.

The listing and endorsing of candidates by a fellow candidate revitalizes the ambiguities surrounding a recent discussion about the definition of slates (see La Voz edition of May 29).

Under the current DASB election code, the creation and promotion of slates is forbidden unless they are done by a non-candidate.

Jensen denies to have violated any code of honorable campaign conduct.

“The people [on the list] are people I felt strongly about as candidates.

DASB President and election committee chairperson Ste-phanie Lagos said that although she thinks the letter qualifies as a slate, enforcing the deletion of the memo as a campaign device might be a difficult step to do.

According to candidate for VP of Administration Claudia Andrade, the next step is not to react to the memo at all.

“We know what our intentions are. When people are scared when they campaign, they start rumors. I take it as a compliment that we are running a good campaign.”

Although Jensen denies directly influencing coaches and athletes, he said he did ask coaches to be allowed to talk to their students at sports meetings to rally for his cause.

“I think Student Alliance is a cancer. … If they’ll get elected we’re all going to be in trouble.”

Asked about funding policies of candidates, Matt Trosper, Academic Adviser for Athletes, said all he knew was that there was one group that supported DASB funding for athletics and one group that didn’t.

According to Trosper, Brett Jensen gave a memo to athletes. However, Trosper said he did not endorse a specific candidate and merely encouraged students to “find out what people stand for and to make their decision that way.”

Presidential candidate Luis Bocaletti said the letter is “an extreme attack. It’s personal and it has nothing to do with politics. I’m at a loss for words, actually. I didn’t want student politics to be this way, but obviously, they are.”

Lagos said she knew from personal experience how excruciating and frustrating campaign politics can be.

“I don’t see how badmouthing other candidates will make somebody want to vote for one more.”

According to Lagos, there were several opportunities to change the code, but a proposition didn’t get passed in Senate.

“The elections went this way last year, and we all saw it coming this year. … And it’s because of the code. It’s not a good code. … It really needs to be rewritten.”

However, Bocaletti voiced his concerns about the potential for influence the letter holds.

“We should take steps, but it’s a little late.”

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