The California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office approved Cal Poly’s request to enact the Student Success Fee on March 16, ending months of planning and outreach over the tuition increase.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong announced the approval of the quarterly fee in a campus-wide email to students. On March 5, he submitted a fee proposal to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, who then sent the necessary documents to move forward with the fee to Armstrong’s office the morning of March 16.
“(The chancellor) complimented the campus on the wide discussions we had,” Armstrong said. “And the fact we did the referendum and the consultative process.”
The chancellor’s letter to Armstrong’s office called the Student Success Fee a “commendable plan consistent with the CSU’s graduation initiative.”
The Student Success Fee, which will take effect this fall, will add $260 to Cal Poly tuition by Fall 2014. It will be phased in over two years, beginning at $160 per quarter before increasing to $210 in Fall 2013.
Students approved the fee in an advisory vote to the president late last month. Of the 7,600 students who voted, 57 percent favored implementing the fee.
Armstrong said he was supportive of the tuition increase before the vote, but his views were confirmed by the student referendum.
“If I thought it was fundamentally a bad idea, I wouldn’t have let all the discussion go on,” he said.
In his email, Armstrong called the students’ approval of the fee a “statement of (students’) trust in Cal Poly.” He said he plans to keep students’ confidence by working to ensure the money brought in by the fee is targeted to areas that need funding most.
“What really hangs on me is the importance of trust,” he said. “I feel like we’ve earned the trust, and now I plan to keep it.”
Armstrong and other administrators concluded meetings Monday afternoon to decide on a plan to determine who will be on the committee that decides exactly where the money from the Student Success Fee will go.
Armstrong said the committee will be made up of 11 representatives; seven of which are students. Six of those individuals will be student-elected members of the ASI Board of Directors, one from each college.
According to Armstrong, members will be selected later this quarter and will be approved by him to serve on the committee.
One of Armstrong’s main goals is to keep the students of Cal Poly in the know as much as possible when making decisions about the Student Success Fee.
“Whatever we do, it will be done very openly and transparently,” Armstrong said.
In a vote conducted through the Cal Poly portal alongside the advisory referendum, students indicated their thoughts on where the Student Success Fee money should be spent. The vote found the top priorities are access to classes and labs and additional focus on Learn By Doing programs.
Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) president and political science senior Kiyana Tabrizi will co-chair the committee with Vice President of Administration and Finance Larry Kelley.
Tabrizi said student members of the committee will be ASI representatives and will reach out to student groups in order to determine financial priorities.
“I’m excited for ASI to see outreach to students and learn about different priorities and new problems we can work on in the future,” she said.
Cal Poly administrators expect the money to be allocated by the end of spring quarter for the next academic year. Tabrizi said the new ASI president, who students will elect in late April, will take an active role on the Student Success Fee committee, and will be the next co-chair after Tabrizi graduates.
“They (the student representatives) are representing students, so I am going to expect them to think for the broader student population.” Armstrong said.
Tabrizi said the incoming ASI president will be caught up with what has already been done when he or she takes office.
“It’s always this natural transition process we do every year, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Tabrizi said.
Armstrong said he wants to begin work quickly to select members for the committee that will establish a budget for the Student Success Fee.
“We want this committee to be like a biological organism: living,” Armstrong said.