CSU Board of Trustees approves new opt-out fee

Jonathan Ayestas

The California State University Board of Trustees approved a proposal to impose an optional Student Involvement and Representation fee (SIRF) that would cost students $4 a year, or $2 a semester, to go towards the California State Student Association.

The CSSA is a body of representatives from the 23 CSU campuses that advocates and lobbies for better quality higher education. The new SIRF, that will go into effect fall 2015, will replace appropriation money that currently funds the association.

“It’ll be the student organization directly funded by students themselves, not by the Chancellor’s office or ASI,” said Mike Sharif, legislative affairs coordinator for ASI.

While SIRF does mean an annual $4 increase to an already high tuition cost, the fee will separate CSSA from funding supported by the Chancellors office, eliminating conflict of interest worries.

“There is some benefit in having some autonomy of not being funded by the Chancellor’s office,” said Gina Curry, director of Student Financial Services. “Especially if you’re trying to maybe advocate against fees from the Chancellors office.”

The CSU Chancellor’s office and board of trustees have been supporting the proposal since it was first introduced a year ago.

“They know how powerful it is to have a student voice,” said Curry. “As educational institutions, the whole function of education is to help students have a voice. So they are very supportive of this.”

If all 447,000 students currently enrolled in the CSU system payed the fee, it would raise $1.7 million to go directly to the CSSA.

Miles Nevin, executive director of the CSSA, said the next steps for SIRF is to communicate with as many students as possible about the fee and to promote it as a mechanism for students to project their opinion by having the option not to pay it.

“Regardless of it being voluntary, and regardless of it being a nominal fee amount, we feel like it’s important to communicate as much as we can via the CSSA and via the ASI, who we are at CSSA and what we do for students, and what the fee is and what it’s intended to do,” said Nevin. “That’s really an ongoing effort.”

The Board of Trustees also approved new requirements for CSU’s implementing student success fees.

When proposing a new student success fee, alternative consultation or a student referendum must be instituted before a new fee can be implemented. A process that Sacramento State practiced last semester when the proposed Student Event Center was voted down by 80 percent of student voters.

The university president, as well as the CSU chancellor, must also approve any proposed student success fee.

Students will also have the opportunity to rescind any implemented student success fees after six years.

Currently, Sac State does not have any student success fees, with no plans of introducing any in the future.