Statewide student government fee would help fund campus student governments

State Hornet Staff

Student opportunities for internships and campus involvement may increase next semester if a voluntary fee introduced by the California State Student Association is approved.

California State University Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp said CSSA presented information to the Board of Trustees in March about the benefits and justification for the fee, with the possibility of proposing it in May.

ASI has to pay for its membership dues to the CSSA every year out of its allotted budget, but would pay approximately $18,000 to $20,000 less, and have more in their budget available for programs or grants because students would pay directly to the CSSA.

Students would have the option of paying $2 a semester towards the CSSA in place of student government membership dues. The money donated by students would be used to increase internships and advocacy for education at the state and federal level.

Sacramento State CSSA Representative Anthony Gibson said there was debate in January on whether to try to pass the fee through the state legislature or through the Board of Trustees. The organization chose the latter, because it was more within the CSU’s authority.

The CSSA is considering the fee because the current level of funding is limited. It would generate $900,000 a semester towards student activities, including state and federal representation.

Gibson said the fee passing would mean better representation for Sac State because more money would create opportunities for ASI to market themselves and tell students what services they provide for them.

The programs help each other since with every donation towards the CSSA, the less ASI has to pay for its membership dues.

CSU Student Trustee Cipriano Vargas said one of the general areas the CSSA is looking to invest in would be advocacy, which would involve sending students to Sacramento or Washington D.C. to speak in favor of education.

“It allows the opportunity for more students to travel to these statewide meetings we have about the education system,” Vargas said.

Gibson said the current Board of Directors have expressed an interest in having a government relations office in Washington D.C. to work more directly with Pell Grants and financial aid that are determined at the national level due to the CSU’s large number of students.

Students enrolled in one school but taking classes in other campuses would not have to pay the fee a second time. Also, students in courses during winter and summer sessions are not required either if they are not paying tuition at that college or university.

Freshman communication studies major Antonio Coffee said a $2 fee collectively adds up quickly and paying it would mean nothing to the average person, but more student opportunities for internships and programs would be beneficial so there can be something for everyone on campus.

“There’s still a large amount of people who don’t really have anything they’re involved with partially because certain things don’t fit their needs,” Coffee said. “If something new opens up, that might be something one group would be interested in.”

Gibson said CSSA has alternate budgets depending on how many students opt out of paying for the fees by signing waivers..

Vargas said the funding received from the fee would be implemented by the ASI programs on each campus at their discretion, giving them the chance to decide what the priorities are with the increased budget.

“The $2 fee is something that will help stabilize the CSSA and help us be stronger advocates and the statewide, local and federal level,” Vargas said. “It will really allow the opportunity to expand our advocacy within the organization and train new leaders.”