EDITORIAL: 5 ways ASI can start spending our money


Andro Palting - The State Hornet

Sacramento State Associated Students, Inc. Election Officer Isaac Curtis talks during a presentation in the Walnut Room in the second floor of the University Union on Feb. 23, 2017. Last year’s elections were short on candidates, and this year’s elections have even fewer students running.

A multi-million dollar organization on campus that gives students massive discounts on tuition and training in a multitude of skills is being categorically underutilized by the campus.

It’s called Associated Students Inc., and it could change this campus if used to its capacity.

As is, that isn’t happening. Of the 13 voted-in positions students can run for, five have no candidate and another five have one student running unopposed. Last year, only three positions had more than one candidate. There are no ballot measures to consider this year, either.

  RELATED: ASI election approaches with small number of candidates, no ballot measures

With a budget of over $9 million, ASI has the potential to make a bigger impact for Sac State, but it needs more student involvement and more ideas about how to spend its money.

Here are our ideas.

Textbook reserve

It would probably only constitute a fraction of $9 million, but ASI should buy reserve copies of as many class textbooks as possible and make them available for students to rent on-site in the University Library.

At nearby American River College, many class textbooks are available in the library for students to read or do assignments out of for up to two hours a checkout.

With tuition due to rise by $228 next year — the second consecutive year of CSU tuition increases — such a move by ASI would not only help students offset added costs but would help students who are financially struggling and can’t lay down a hundred dollars for a textbook get their assignments done and keep up with class reading.

Events center

Then-Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez proposed a project in 2004 called Destination 2010, which included renovations to existing facilities as well as the introduction of new buildings — including the addition of The WELL, which happened, and an events center, which still doesn’t exist.

At the time, students passed referendum to increase the University Union/WELL portion of student fees. Students today are still paying these fees — $337 per semester — and deserve an events center that Sac State also needs.

The arena could be a new, cheaper home for graduation ceremonies, as the University continues to pay large amounts for ceremonies at the Golden 1 Center downtown.

Furthermore, the arena could be offered to all of Northern California as a cheaper alternative to Golden 1 Center for other events like concerts, sports tournaments and graduations.

It would also give a boost to the University’s basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and STUNT programs that currently compete in The Nest, small enough to potentially hamper both recruiting and revenue efforts.

While $9 million couldn’t fund an entire events center, it could give the project a much-needed boost.

Addressing food insecurity

ASI could use its funds to better address food and housing insecurity in the Sac State community.

A 2018 study covering all 23 California State University campuses found that 41.6 percent of students have had a problem with food security in the past year.

The ASI Food Pantry is a welcome addition to this campus. The ASI Board of Directors should work to improve the food pantry and make students more aware of its presence. To start, it should be open to students every day of the week, and the hours should be extended.

The Pop Up Pantry is also a great opportunity for students to get fresh produce at no cost outside The WELL on selected Mondays. ASI should use its resources to make the pantry available every Monday.

What if ASI sponsored meal plans for students in need, too? That would give students access to hot meals right here on campus. The meal plans could be offered on a case-by-case basis, for as long as the student is facing food insecurity.

Housing co-op

We’ve written about a co-op dorm system in this space before; other universities have made it work, with the Berkeley Student Cooperative at UC Berkeley being the closest and best example.

Students who work as a part of the co-op have rent costs nearly halved as long as they are working five hours a week within the community. A student working at minimum wage would have to work 40 hours a month to cover that cost.

The Berkeley co-op houses over 1,300 people at any given time, only 800 or so less than the residence halls at Sac State. ASI could easily be the largest funder in a program like this. The Berkeley co-op is a non-profit organization and the Sac State version could be the same.

Parking garage

Does this one even need to be explained? Maybe it would be excessive, but it sure seems like this campus could use more parking.

Maybe ASI could pitch in to help Sac State build another parking garage on campus, one that might finally make parking before a day of classes stress-free.

A new garage could go in Lot 10, which is currently the easiest place to find a spot, mainly because it is so far from the heart of campus. Or it could go somewhere on campus that currently has a flat lot, like Lots 7, 8 and 9.

One more garage adding a significant number of spaces could be exactly what the school needs to remove the congestion on campus. Build upward, not outward.