Not all fees go toward academic programs. A select few go toward the other half of the college experience: clubs, activities and memorable events.
Each quarter, Cal Poly students pay both Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) fees and University Union (UU) fees which help support programs intended to enrich students’ college experience.
For example, the $43.51 “ASI athletic fee” goes directly to Cal Poly athletics, while the $51.42 “ASI fee,” $197.35 “UU fee” and $7 “UU sports fee” are used to support projects and events that students want, ASI director of business services Dwayne Brummett said.
Though they are different fees, they are grouped together and managed together because of their similar purposes, Brummett said.
“We’re together, and it works really well for what we’re doing,” Brummet said. “From the outside, it’s confusing, but it works really well for us.”
ASI fees support programs such as Poly Escapes, the Orfalea Family and ASI Children’s Center, club funding, athletic scholarships and ASI student government. While the UU fees pay for UU services such as the Craft Center, leasing out commercial spaces in the UU, supporting recreational sports and the Recreation Center.
Together, money from both fees is used to fund events such as UU Hour concerts, poker tournaments, movie nights and guest speakers.
Though ASI and UU fees fund a variety of events and programs now, it wasn’t always that way, Brummett said.
The ASI fee as Cal Poly students know it today was voted on in 2001, when students decided they were willing to pay more to support programs such as the student government and Poly Escapes, Brummett said.
This year, 59 percent of ASI’s budget was set aside for programs, with 24 percent going to administration, 6 percent to student government, 11 percent to retirement benefits for former employees and less than 1 percent to support college student councils.
Students don’t directly decide how to spend ASI and UU fees, but they are still the chief consideration when establishing a budget, Brummett said.
“This money is not necessarily managed by the students, but the students provide the guiding light,” Brummett said.
When students wanted a bowling alley in the new UU in the 1970s, money from student fees made that happen. When students wanted to bring a Starbucks onto campus, UU administration worked with Campus Dining to set it up, Brummett said.
“There’s a real tight relationship between the students and the professional staff that works on their behalf,” Brummett said.
UU and ASI administration work to gather information on what students want through student representatives, serving on the UU Advisory Board (UUAB) and in ASI student government, ASI Board of Directors chair Katie Titus said.
A student with an idea can inform any student representative and the idea will be passed along, Titus said.
“There’s a lot of communication,” Titus said. “So anywhere the idea goes it’ll get guided in the right direction.”
ASI student government is also actively involved in looking over the rest of the budget, Titus said. The Board of Directors has a committee which specifically looks over every aspect of ASI’s budget and advises Brummett on how the money can best be put to use, Titus said.
“Any student with any ideas that serves on the Board or UU Advisory Board can have an influence,” Titus said.
Those ideas include the new Recreation Center expansion, proposed by students in 2008. The completion of projects chosen by previous student board members is a uniting force, Titus said.
Even with all the projects funded by ASI and UU fees, some students question if it is worth the cost. Nutrition sophomore Alyson Chow said she understands why ASI programs are popular, but if the fees were any higher, she wouldn’t be able to afford them.
She doesn’t know exactly where all the money goes, Chow said.
Nonetheless, she said she saw the positive impact of ASI and UU fees last year, when rappers Zion I and the Grouch performed during UU Hour.
“It does bring the campus together and students together,” Chow said.