Students to Vote on Fee Increase This Quarter

A proposed $52 hike on student fees could help pay for new transportation options and increase financial aid

A.S. Council’s proposed transportation fee referendum, which would add a $52 quarterly student fee to cover transportation services will finally be voted on by students Week 8 of Winter Quarter 2014.

The text of the referendum will be sent to students Week 4 of winter quarter and will be sent again no later than two weeks prior to the election dates. The referendum specifies that 71 percent of the fee will be allocated to Transportation Services and a Student Transportation Advisory Committee for improvements in mass transit and alternative transportation, while the other 29 percent will go to financial aid, as mandated by a statewide return-to-aid policy.

“We’ll be leading a big education campaign this quarter to make sure folks understand this isn’t an out-of-the-blue referendum charging students money,” A.S. President Andy Buselt said. “As long as we’re doing our education campaign and students are informed that this is based off of a survey, I expect a good strong turnout, and I expect the student voice will be heard.”

Two independent surveys of graduate students, conducted by the Graduate Student Association, indicated graduate student support for a transportation fee, leading the GSA to endorse the referendum on Dec. 2.

“We want students to make an educated and informed decision while voting,” GSA President Rahul Kapadia said. “Also, putting a referendum on a student ballot is a major task, and we need to get it right the first time, rather than have it fail or not support the services students need.”

In order to ensure that the funds are directed in students’ interest, the Student Transportation Advisory Committee solely will be allotted $2.22 per student per quarter. This will amount to almost $200,000 a year for special projects such as bike-sharing programs, carpool and parking solutions. Transportation Services will receive $34.70 per student per quarter.

The amount of revenue generated by the referendum will be enough to fill the $3 million deficit, continue funding the current transportation programs and expand student access to transportation. The intention is to give students universal access to all San Diego transit, including buses and light rail. According to Executive Director of ASUCSD Moves Kyle Heiskala, this will expand students’ options for off-campus living.

“My general feeling is that this is an opportunity to solve the problems and if students aren’t able to find a solution this year we’ve gone past the point of maintaining services,” Heiskala said. “Students will have to pay out-of-pocket for bus service, and I would see it as a clear point of decline for mass transit for the UCSD community.”
If passed, the fee will go into effect Fall 2014. In order to pass, the majority of voters must support the fee referendum and 20 percent of eligible voters must cast a vote.