[follow id = “xjessnguyen”]
On Jan. 28, the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees voted to approve a $4 voluntary student fee, also known as the Student Involvement and Representation Fee (SIRF), after funding models were revised.
The California State Student Association (CSSA), an organization consisting of representatives from each of the 23 CSU campuses advocating for college students, presented a SIRF proposal to the Board of Trustees for review last March.
According to Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Joi Sullivan, Cal Poly has always been opposed to this $4 fee due to its prior lack of budget planning.
“Not knowing where that money is going, the inflation of the budget — it’s huge,” Sullivan said. “Right now their budget is approximately $600,000.”
If two-thirds of the students attending CSU campuses decide to support the voluntary fee, CSSA’s budget will increase to $1.8 million, Sullivan said.
The Board of Trustees moved to approve the proposal after CSSA developed a concise expansion budget proposal, providing specific direction on where funds will be allocated with the new funding from SIRF.
“I want to make sure that this process is extremely transparent, that students know the fee exists, who CSSA is and what they can do,” Sullivan said. “I want to make sure that our future ASI presidents and Board of Directors (BOD) members are investing in CSSA because now our students are paying.”
Currently, CSSA is supported financially by system funding from the CSU Chancellor’s Office and ASI membership dues. The campus pays $0.67 per student for membership dues through the ASI budget.
“The way that we are currently funded is through campus dues,” Cal Poly Pomona student and CSSA Chair Devon Graves said. “With SIRF, we will no longer have membership dues.”
The key objective of modifying the CSSA funding model is to increase the organization’s financial independence from the Chancellor’s Office, boosting CSSA’s credibility. CSSA plans to achieve organizational stability with a more predictable funding model compared to a fluctuating budget on a year-to-year basis.
“We’ve been advocating for students for many years,” Graves said. “We plan to expand programs (that) will allow more students to be included.”
New funding structures include allocating a portion of the budget toward expanding scholarship opportunities for students at large.
“The Board of Directors had discussed initial funding priorities, and one of those is to provide scholarships to CSSA’s officers as well as recognize students working on issues such as sustainability,” CSSA Executive Director Miles Nevin said.
However, the details are not finalized.
Starting Fall 2015, students will have the choice to pay the $4 fee when registering for classes. While paying for tuition online, there will be an opt-out option for those who do not wish to fund CSSA.
“Our main plan is to implement a communication strategy that we’ve been working on this past year,” Nevin said. “We created a media tool kit, which includes a campus press release.”
The communications toolkit will be implemented tentatively by late March before fall registration. Supporting universities will include CSSA information along with a highlighted web link with the student registration process.
To further inform students of SIRF, CSSA plans to communicate with students through word of mouth, social media, websites, campaigns and open forums. CSSA will also work closely with ASI to relay information regarding SIRF’s importance throughout each individual CSU campus to gain student support.
Financial information pertaining to what SIRF will go toward is available online at www.csustudents.org.
“We will continue to have our budgeting process governed by student leaders,” Nevin said. “Our student leaders determine what the priorities are.”