Marshall Students Pass Fee Hike

Thurgood Marshall College students voted overwhelmingly last week to raise the fees they pay to their student government, making Marshall’s the first college compulsory fee that allocates a portion to those in need of financial aid.

Greg Dale/Guardian
Thurgood Marshall College students camped out last week to collect votes for the college’s student activity fee referendum, which passed by a wide margin.

The Thurgood Marshall College Student Council’s proposal increased the $2-per-quarter activity fee for Marshall students by $4. To relieve financial stress for students unable to afford the increase, the council added a return-to-aid requirement to the fee increase, under which 29 percent of the increase will be used to provide financial aid.

“Not only did we as students initiate the fee, we also took into consideration the many students who came from low-income communities,” Marshall Senior Senator Kate Pillon said. “We realize that the fee increase may be a hardship and we wanted to make sure that it isn’t by adding the 29 percent component.”

The purpose of an activity fee is to provide the college councils with the means to fund social and academic programs for the individual colleges, as well as all-campus events. Marshall previously had the lowest activity fee out of all the UCSD colleges.

Marshall College councilmembers have pledged to use the fee increase to expand the college’s annual music festival, Marshallpalooza, as well “Cultural Celebration,” a joint event put on by the college and A.S. Council.

Last year, Marshall students rejected a similar fee referendum, but the 29 percent return to financial aid was a unique aspect of the two proposals. Other UC campuses have already implemented return-to-aid policies, but this is UCSD’s first compulsory fee that includes a financial-aid component.

On March 9, one day before the election ended, Marshall College Vice Chair of Finance Geoff Peppler announced that 630 students had voted, fewer than the 728 — 20 percent of Marshall students — required to validate the election.

Despite the council’s concerns, 827 of the 3,638 Marshall students voted in the election, with an overwhelming 650 approving of the referendum. There were 158 students who voted against the referendum and 19 who abstained.

“The fact that almost 23 percent of all Thurgood Marshall College students voted and that practically 80 percent of those voted in the affirmative really tells me that Marshall students want more from their college,” Peppler said.