Quarterly$6.75 fee to appear on ballot

    The A.S. Council approved the placement of a fee referendum on the April general election ballot that will ask undergraduate students if they support an increase of $6.75 in their quarterly activity fee.

    According to the referendum question that will appear on the ballot, the fee would support ASUCSD programming activities, student organizations, national competition and conference travel for student groups, student-initiated outreach programs, college council programming and other campus activities.

    Undergrads currently pay a quarterly activity fee of $21. Funds generated from the activity fee are under the jurisdiction of A.S. Council for allocation.

    The council’s approval of the referendum, which came during its March 5 meeting, was in line with the recommendations of the A.S. Financial Outlook Committee, which gave a special presentation on the state of A.S. finances at the beginning of the meeting.

    The committee, composed of five senators and five cabinet members, including President Jenn Brown and Vice President Finance Dave Beza, recommended the fee increase in light of university budget cuts, economic inflation and a growth in the number of student organizations on campus. The FOC also took into account projected increases in student enrollment in formulating its recommendation.

    According to Beza, the fee increase is projected to add an additional $386,000 to the A.S. budget. The fee increase would take effect fall 2003.

    During the FOC presentation, committee members Brown, John Muir College Freshman Senator Nam Bui, Earl Warren College Sophomore Senator Kirsten Bowen and Revelle College Junior Senator Bishoy Said explained the reasoning behind the FOC’s recommendations.

    Said reported that over 100 new student organizations have been formed since the last activity fee referendum in 1998. According to the FOC, the Student Organization Funding Advisory Board, which allocates money to student organizations, can currently only afford to fund about 30 to 40 percent of a student organization’s requested funding amount. A.S.-sponsored media and programming are also regularly denied requested funds, and there is currently a $450 cap on student organization national competition travel funding, according to Beza. As a result, the FOC recommended that “”funds for student organization, programming, media and travel be significantly increased in order to effectively fund at least 60 percent to 70 percent of all requests, remove current spending caps … and encourage more student organizations to hold programs.””

    “”Student organizations are drastically underfunded,”” Beza said. “”A.S. has grown a lot recently and we haven’t addressed the financial need of that growth.””

    The FOC also conveyed the need to maintain the Student Initiated Outreach and Recruitment Commission’s ability to fund its programming requests at its current level, despite cuts in state funding to SIORC.

    FOC members noted, however, that there is no guarantee that next year’s council would allocate student activity funds in accordance with FOC recommendations, even if students approve the fee referendum.

    During the FOC presentation, several A.S. Council members questioned whether a $7 increase might be more appealing to students because it is a more rounded figure. The FOC representatives responded by saying their goal was to keep the student activity fee as low as possible.

    Soon after, Revelle College Council Chair Alex Schafgans asked the committee members if this was the best quarter to address an activity fee increase. Brown defended the referendum’s timing by contending that the issue should have been addressed last year, as last year’s council left the current A.S. Council in “”bad shape.””

    The A.S. Council approved the referendum question by a vote of 16-1 with one abstention. A list presenting pros and cons of the $6.75 fee increase will appear next to the referendum question.

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