Optional student fee in the works for approval

Matthew Malone

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Associated Students Inc. gave its support last week to a proposed $4-a-year student fee that would replace ASI membership dues for the CSU system’s official student advocacy organization.

The California State Student Association is composed of student representatives from all 23 CSU campuses and serves as a link between students and the chancellor. It also lobbies on state and national levels.

CSSA President Daniel Clark and Meridith Turner, lobbyist for CCSA, spoke at ASI’s Oct. 29 meeting, explaining how the association would use the potential revenue.

The fee, called the Student Involvement and Representation Fee, would be voluntary for all students – students could complete waivers to opt out – and, according to Turner, would reduce CSSA’s dependence on CSU, which provides 44 percent of the organization’s budget. Turner said the money would help the organization in the event it opposes a decision by the chancellor.

Turner said after the meeting, the proposal’s reception among students has been mostly positive.

“I think what’s really unique about this fee is that it’s being proposed by students for students,” she said.

CSSA is sending representatives to the student government bodies on each CSU campus, answering the student governments’ questions. The fee will take effect if it receives approval from the CSU Board of Trustees.

In a presentation on its website, the organization projected revenue from the fee at $1.6 million, assuming 90 percent participation, more than double the revenue it now receives from all income sources.

Shelby Kendrick, a graduate student from Louisiana in Sacramento State’s public history program, said she would pay the fee if it were enacted.

“I don’t think $4 is a huge difference, especially with out-of-state fees,” Kendrick said.

ASI President Lauren Lombardo said the fee had been an idea for about 10 years. Student leaders from CSU Long Beach initiated the current proposal last year.

At first, Lombardo said, the plan was to go straight to the trustees, but the CSSA switched to its campus-by-campus course in light of student concerns about implementing the fee. She said the eventual Board of Trustees vote would likely come in Fall 2016.

The ASI Board of Directors approved the resolution of support with 19 members in favor and two abstentions. It stipulated that the use of the funding be transparent and that ASI membership dues be waived.

Student governments at each campus pay membership dues to CSSA that at Sac State come out of the $64 ASI student fee. To prevent students from being charged twice, the Board of Directors requested CSSA to stop collecting dues.

Ashley Rivers, a student in the history pre-credential program, said she would not pay the fee.

“I know it’s only $4, but the school kind of nickels and dimes you anyway,” Rivers said.

Rivers added, with a son to take care of and a mortgage to pay, she did not want to pay extra for school.

Sac State undergraduates taking more than six units pay $588 in fees on top of $2,736 in tuition.