Over the course of winter quarter, student government hosted Advocacy, Outreach and Accountability events titled “Donuts for Your Doubts” during University Union (UU) Hour, in order to obtain your concerns and respond accordingly. One of the main topics several students we surveyed suggested was becoming aware of how the ASI and UU Fees operate.
Each spring quarter, the ASI Board of Directors approves the operating ASI budget for the following fiscal year, and specifically, the budget committee reviews the ins and outs of the budget proposal before the board passes it. To ensure the student voice is represented accurately, the budget committee is chaired by the vice chair of the board, Laurel Hilt, and is comprised of five students from the board as well as the University Union Advisory Board. Three additional ASI staff members serve on the committee, one being the ASI director of business services, in order to explain each line item within the budget.
As you may or may not be aware, every Cal Poly student pays the mandatory ASI and UU Fee each quarter. This year, the ASI Fee is $92.57 and funds these areas: club funding, club services and programs (Epicenter), ASI programs and ASI events, ASI children’s programs, Poly Escapes, Chumash Challenge, Rose Float (contract with the state), athletic scholarships and student community services.
Completely separate from the ASI fee is the UU fee, which is $133.13 and funds the following areas: Craft Center, Union Facility Operations, Audio-Visual, UU Welcome Center, Reservations, Custodial Services, Maintenance, Utilities, Intramural Sports and Tournaments, Open Recreation, Aquatics, Personal Training, Informal Fitness, Recreation Center Operations and the Sports Complex.
Since we are amidst a state budget crisis, many students have asked why the ASI/UU fees are not being used for classes, parking, tuition, hiring faculty or purchasing new lab equipment. Under Title V of the California Education Code, a Student Body Fee can only be used for non-academic programs. Since ASI is a 501c3 auxiliary organization, ASI must abide by Title V. By law, ASI cannot transfer monies used in construction towards classes or academic programs. Additionally, ASI does not have any jurisdiction over parking because it is a state matter, so we cannot decrease parking costs.
Besides only being able to fund non-academic programs, the ASI and UU fees increase on a yearly basis. The reason for this is not for ASI to have a larger operating budget but is due to the natural inflation that exists from the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI). Besides automatic inflation, the only other way the ASI and UU fees can increase results from a student vote.
Finally, another question we received during our outreach was who pays for the renovation of the Recreation Center. Let us explain the breakdown. On Feb. 27 and 28, 2008, 75 percent of student voters approved an increase to the UU fee to fund the expansion and renovation of the existing Recreation Center.
The Recreation Center planning and design was funded through reserves, and construction is being funded from bonds that will be repaid from future student fees. When the renovated Recreation Center opens in January 2012*, the UU fee will increase by $65 per quarter per student. Specifically, this fee will help pay for the construction, operation and maintenance of the renovated facility. While the Recreation Center will be closed from June 2011 to January 2012, students will not pay the $65 increase but will pay the quarterly fee already in place.
Since the ASI and UU fee are mandatory, ASI can continue to provide diverse programs to enrich student life at Cal Poly and be every student’s connection to the ultimate college experience.
Sarah Storelli is the ASI President. Storelli along with Kostas McDade and Nick Dindio write the State of the Students column.
*Subject to change due to unforeseen construction delays