Warren students approve $4 activity fee referendum

    More than 450 Earl Warren College students, or roughly 60 percent of those who voted in a week-long special election, approved a $4-per-quarter activity fee, beginning in fall of 2004. The vote makes Warren the last college on campus to institute an activity fee.

    Almost 800 students, slightly more than 17 percent of the total Warren population, voted on the referendum, meeting the 15-percent quorum required to approve the fee.

    “I’m excited because Warren now has the resources to implement our ideas,” Warren College Student Council President Erik Ward said.

    Sophomores represented the largest group of voters, with 251 participating, followed closely behind by juniors, according to the results released by WCSC officials. Freshmen turned out to the polls in the fewest numbers, with just more than 100 participating. The numbers refer to class standing and not years of attendance.

    In all, 23 students, or almost three percent of those voting, chose to abstain.

    Because voting took place on paper ballots at two campus locations, near the Price Center and Warren shuttle stops, poll workers used hand-held radios to check off voters’ names at both polls in order to ensure that students voted only once.

    However, the number of ballots reviewed by Warren election officials exceeded the number of recorded voters by one, a number Warren Special Election Manager Max Kuperman said was within a reasonable margin of error.

    “I highly doubt that any student voted twice,” Kuperman said. “[One extra vote] is very good for an election. Especially in a paper election, there is bound to be some different numbers. We were very accurate and the poll workers did a great job.”

    The 30 poll workers needed to run the voting sites were “very well trained,” he said, explaining that the discrepancy in numbers likely resulted from a voter whose name was not recorded by the workers.

    Participating voters entered into a raffle to win sets of tickets to Chargers and Padres sporting events, provided by USA Today, and received a coffee mug with the paper’s logo.

    In total, the newspaper provided approximately $2,000 in funding and materials to promote the special election, according to outgoing WCSC President Tim Alexander.

    USA Today is one of three newspapers delivered through the Warren Readership Program, a $9,000-per-year service currently paid for by the college’s administrators, according to Alexander. However, because of budget cuts, the program may potentially end if the college council does not take over its funding in the fall of 2004.

    “I’m not a super-strong advocate of this [program],” Ward said, adding that spending by the college was up to the student council and that the council made no agreement with USA Today in exchange for the paper’s assistance in the “Get out and vote” campaign.

    Ward said he would support using a portion of the more than $50,000 to be raised through the activity fee to continue the college’s subscription with the Los Angeles Times and would rather have students decide through a survey if they wanted other newspapers included.

    A “fat chunk of the money” will go to the Warren Transfer and Commuter Commission, according to Ward. The committee was created when Warren students ratified a new constitution in April. According to Ward, the committee will focus its funding on programs targeted at commuters, while the student council will aim at the on-campus residents.

    “A big priority is making sure that they have a good time while they’re here, so in two years they’ll want to come back,” Ward said, explaining that his goals include putting on a major campuswide event to be sponsored by the college.

    According to Warren freshman Leo Bondar, the prospect of more activities was the reason he voted in favor of the fee.

    “Warren is boring,” Bondar said. “Twelve dollars isn’t that much — it’s a small price to pay.”

    In addition to college events, Ward said he would also like to see the council provide services for residents, including installing Triton Plus readers on the college’s laundry equipment. However, he said all major spending will wait until next year.

    “We just have a fiscal responsibility. Now that we have the money, we need to take care of it,” Ward said, promising that the college will not dip into the funds early, which would cause the current year to end in a deficit.

    However, Warren sophomore Bryan Phan said he opposes the fee increase, explaining that he had little interest in the proposals.

    Before the student fee is imposed, the referendum must be certified by Warren administrators and receive approval from university officials and the UC president, according to Alexander.

    Alexander said he expects officials to implement the fee without problems and believes the money will be beneficial for the college.

    “I think we can definitely expect great things from [the council] next year,” he said.

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