The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors voted 19 to seven to support a $99 quarterly increase of the student Health Fee at a meeting Nov. 15.
Administration proposed two options for a student health fee increase. Option A included a $99 quarterly increase while Option B called for a $114 increase quarterly. The ASI Board of Directors also could have endorsed not adopting a new fee and maintaining the current health fee of $105 per quarter. The health fee was last increased in 2009.
According to the Health Center’s report, the fee increase should reduce wait time for appointments from two weeks to one week, reduce walk-in wait times from two to three hours to one to 1.5 hours and increase the counselor-student ratio from 1-to-1,550 to 1-to-1,000.
According to Director of Counseling Services Geneva Reynaga-Abiko, administration is also considering other options to support the Health Center. They have already explored the option of creating an endowment, Reynaga-Abiko said, but that would cost $150 million dollars. She also said that outside health organizations have decided not to assist the university because they are unable to make a profit off students under California State University policy.
ASI representatives who opposed the fee increase said they did not feel comfortable making a decision on behalf of their constituents because they only had one month to inform the student body and solicit input. As the official voice of students, they said they needed more time and more input before making a decision that reflects the views of their entire college.
“We can’t reward administration with the candy they’re looking for after they spank us and say ‘Haha, I got away with it,’” Vice Chair of the Board and agricultural communications senior Haley Warner said.
Other representatives said they did not believe putting the burden on students would be the best way to support the university. They believe the majority of mental health issues have to do with money. Placing a larger financial burden on students might be counterproductive to improving their mental health.
“One of the primary influences on poor mental health in college is financial stress,” College of Science and Mathematics Board representative and statistics senior Gianna Ciaccio said after the meeting. “While financial aid is incorporated into the fee, there are students that surpass the low-income bracket that may still struggle to afford such a fee.”
Last year the Board passed a resolution to improve the Health Center, but specifically without a financial burden on students.
“I would hate to hear next quarter that we come back and alternative consulting is just happening,” College of Liberal Arts Board representative and political science senior Rita Elfarissi said last year.
Supporters argued they were elected to make the tough decisions for their colleges, and although they did not have enough time to talk to students in their college, they should still work to improve the university.
“What does a better Cal Poly look like?” College of Engineering Board representative and mechanical engineer senior John D’Ambrosio said. “I think a better Cal Poly looks like one with actual health services.”