Council Opposes Proposed $6 Technology Fee

Graduate Student Association representative Garo Bournoutian and Sixth College Senator Parminder Sandhu have created a resolution against a $6-per-unit quarterly tech fee proposed by Academic & Computing Media Services department.

The fee, originally proposed on Dec. 1, was originaly planned to be $5 per unit, but was later changed to $6 per unit.  Currently, there is no technology fee at UCSD, and ACMS officials are concerned about outdated technologies.

The $6 figure is based on existing fees at other UC schools and how much the department wants to spend on improving classroom technology. Revenue would fund technology improvements for courses, except for the 29 percent that will return to financial aid.

A.S. councilmembers have raised concerns as to whether the money will go to the right places, as the proposal does not specify where funds will go.

“We cannot support any new fees unless we have the opportunity to vote and are given a specific budget detailing the exact distribution of student fees,” A.S. President Wafa Ben Hassine said.

The final say on the fee rests with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, but many groups, including staff, fee committees and the council have or will review the proposal and present opinions to Fox. The fee could see the Chancellor’s desk by February and could be in place as soon as Fall Quarter 2011.

Ben Hassine and other members of A.S. Council have expressed their disapproval of the fee. On Jan. 24, they issued a statement to administrators stating their opposition to it.

“The audacity to administer a new fee given the current student financial condition, the lack of statistics to justify the technological changes and a lack of student representation in the drafting of the proposal,” Ben Hassine said in the statement.

She also expressed concern of the precedent the fee would set without student approval.

“Students and faculty share the concern that if this proposal passes, it will inevitably lead to the implementation of more fees through methods that lack student representation,” Ben Hassine said.

Recently, a few councilmembers said they were confident that Fox would reject the fee proposal

The fee would cost a student taking 16 units a quarter an additional $288 per year, in addition to the approximate 40-percent increase in fees students have witnessed in the past two years.

The fee would improve the technology in classrooms by adding new projectors, expanding podcasting capabilities, adding document readers and improving WiFi service. Some money would also go to remote access labs, expanding WebCT and keeping libraries open later. The allocation of fee money is mostly based on expansion of the current systems, rather than a total overhaul.

The proposal also provides for the creation of an Instructional Technology Vision & Funding Committee. This committee would consist of staff, administrators and three students (two undergraduate and one graduate). The committee whose role it would be to decide how revenue is spent will only be created if the fee is passed.

ACMS could not be reached for comment.

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