A.S. Works to Revise Facility Charges

A.S. Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch explained that students paying to reserve campus facilities for events are essentially paying twice.

“Sports facilities such as RIMAC are built through student-referendum fees, but students still need to reserve space and pay each time to use them, which is double-charging,” Benesch said.

According to Benesch, double-charging has been a problem since at least 1995, when many sports facilities were first built.

Last year, councilmembers chartered a committee with the purpose of revising the university’s policy to charge student groups for facility use.

“We wanted to explore different policies of usage in terms of student fees funding facilities, and we wanted to change them,” Benesch said.

The committee has since been disbanded — partly because the majority of its members graduated, and partly because A.S. President Utsav Gupta decided the issue did not warrant the work of a committee.

“We decided the issue didn’t need a special committee, and so many people to solve the problem,” Gupta said.

The committee met approximately four times over the course of the 2008-09 academic year. Members examined the original policy and then proposed a new policy, in which students would not be required to pay for facility use unless the usage were to incur extra costs.

“If students using the facility means that special things need to be set up — such as electricians coming in — or the use diminishes the value and further usage of the facility, it’s fine to pay,” Benesch said.

Gupta agreed.

“We’re fine with students paying more for the cost of something like [the Sun God festival], which obviously needs a lot of external work to set up,” he said. “We just don’t want the facilities to be making a profit out of this.”

After the student policy changes were proposed last year, they ran into administrative roadblocks that prevented implementation. Benesch explained that when the proposal was suggested to the university’s Recreational Facilities Board, various administrators expressed strong opposition to changing campus policy and postponed making a decision on the proposal.

Councilmembers will bring the proposal before the Athletic, Recreational and Sports Facilities Advisory Board (ARSFAB) again later this year.

“This time, we have a very well-informed group of student representatives on staff who understand the issues placed before them,” Benesch said. “[The group] won’t be susceptible to the power dynamic that invariably comes up in campus politics that fails to let student voice be heard.”

Benesch also met with former UC Student Regent D’Artagnan Scorza during Fall Quarter 2008 to discuss the double-charging issue, but said he has not met with current UC Student Regent Jesse Bernal.

“It’s not an issue people will get passionate about and speak up for, so the student regent hasn’t,” Benesch said. “People will obviously rally and protest for fees, but not really for being double-charged to use their facilities.”

However, policy revision has continued into this year, and councilmembers are still concerned about the issue, which Gupta has introduced at meetings with the chairs of the six college councils.

“We will still be seeking new policies for facility use going into the future,” Gupta said.

Both Gupta and Benesch said they hope to have the revised policy implemented by early Winter Quarter.

Readers can contact Angela Chen at [email protected].

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