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May 24, 1999

Student voters approve new fee to pay for free, anonymous HIV testing

By Francine Tyler

Student voters approved a new fee to pay for free and anonymous HIV testing but rejected all other fee-related measures during UCSC's spring elections. The elections were held May 10-14 on the World Wide Web.

Nearly 40 percent of undergraduate students (3,603) and 15 percent of graduate students (138) voted in the elections. A total turnout of 20 percent was required for the elections to be valid.

Approximately 86 percent of the students voted for Measure D--the HIV testing measure--giving it more than the required two-thirds support to pass. The measure instituted a 75-cents per quarter fee to pay for free and anonymous HIV testing by HIV peer test counselors. All of the free tests will use oral testing methods (rather than blood), so testing can take place in clinical and nonclinical settings alike.

"We're really happy that Measure D has passed," said Jennifer Austin, health education/HIV prevention coordinator and one of the supporters of the measure. "It's an outstanding opportunity to do some really creative outreach and some very important testing on our campus."

The free and anonymous testing will not completely replace the confidential testing already offered by the Student Health Center, Austin said. The Student Health Center will continue to offer confidential blood tests for $20 because these tests are often requested by students who need a record of the results for Peace Corps travel abroad or by students who are already getting blood drawn for other medical tests.

With the new free and anonymous testing, Measure D supporters hope to double the number of students tested for HIV, from roughly 325 to 750 each year.

The new fee must be approved by the UC Regents before it becomes official. If approved, the fee will be assessed beginning in fall 1999.

The voters turned down the other measures on the ballot, each of which fell short of the required two-thirds support to pass. These measures proposed fees to build pedestrian bridges on campus, improve the transportation system, create a campus retention program, build an indoor rock climbing facility, and support athletic activities, student theater arts productions, and college government and activities.

Voters elected officers to the Student Union Assembly, naming Kirti Srivastava as Student Union Assembly chair, Eric Gonzalez as campus organizing director, Kenneth S. Burch as UCSA representative, and Daniel Lazo as Lobby Corps director. The officers' yearlong terms begin July 1.

Undergraduate and graduate students also voted in separate opinion polls placed on the ballot by the Student Union Assembly, the Graduate Student Association, and the Graduate Division.

In their opinion poll, undergraduate students weighed in on issues of campus parking and on a proposal for a four-quarter system for UCSC. Graduates voted on what features--such as parking, child care, and housing--they would want to see in a graduate college, and whether such a college is desired. The opinion polls are not legally binding.

For more information, go to the elections Web site at elections.ucsc.edu.

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