The revenue could purchase instructional equipment and create more “Learn By Doing” enrichment activities, College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Dean Doug Epperson said, though it is unclear exactly how the money will be spent.
The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Dean Doug Epperson proposed a fee increase earlier this month to bring tuition for CLA students up to par with other colleges within Cal Poly.
The fee will be a $112 per quarter increase for full-time CLA students and $58 increase for part-time students.
If the proposal passes, funding will increase by $1 million dollars per year, Epperson said.
“Based on careful consideration of numerous factors, we believe that our students deserve the very best education we can provide for them,” Epperson said. “It just doesn’t seem fair that students are deprived of opportunities students in other colleges have. We are currently using almost 100 percent of Student Success Fees for course access. Thus, the proposed increase in the College-Based Fee (CBF) to be at the same level as what other students pay.”
The revenue could purchase instructional equipment and create more Learn By Doing enrichment activities, Epperson said, though it is unclear exactly how the money will be spent.
Epperson cited the Cal Poly Music Department as one area that demonstrates the College of Liberal Art’s high-cost needs are on par with the rest of the university. One baby grand piano, he said, costs upward of $100,000.
“Most of the music department’s equipment inventory is aging and in need of replacement,” Music Department Chair Terrence Spiller said. “All of the practice room, classroom and rehearsal room pianos need replacing — this can run into several hundred thousand dollars.”
When CBFs were originally implemented in 2002, the Liberal Arts dean did not think CLA students needed to pay as much as students of other colleges, Epperson said. But, after years of budget cuts, CLA’s tuition is still lower than other colleges’.
In 2009, there was a vote to increase CBFs across campus, which would have raised CLA tuition. Then-Cal Poly President Warren Baker recommended approval, but the California State University Chancellor denied it.
“One of the issues that I’ve heard is that it has the fallacy that CLA is less than other colleges, that it’s not as difficult or polytechnic in nature,” Associated Students, Inc. President Jason Colombini said. “The fee kind of adds on to that belief, which is completely not true. Every college at Cal Poly has the difficult parts to it, the easy parts to it and the things that make it what it is.”
Epperson plans to advertise the CLA’s high-tech and high-cost needs to clear up any false assumptions that liberal arts students don’t need more funds.
“I will be doing my best to make sure that faculty and students are appropriately informed of what the proposal is and what the potential uses of the additional revenue might be,” Epperson said. “I will meet with any college club that wants to meet with me to answer questions, encourage department chairs to meet with students in their department about this and assure that expenditures will be done through consultative student advisory committees.”
Epperson and other proponents of the fee increase will have to work to gain student support to get the proposal passed within the next three months.
“The main challenge is that anytime you talk about any type of increase in fee, the initial reaction is negative,” Epperson said. “It’s a normal and appropriate human reaction. My view, at the end of the day, is that student judgment will be made based on what the return is of their investment.”
Epperson doesn’t know where the money will go yet, he said, because the consultative process hasn’t been completed.
First, the proposal goes to the College Fee Advisory Committee (CFAC), a committee with three students and six Cal Poly employees that reviews university fee increases. Based on an initial review, CFAC makes a recommendation to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong.
As of its meeting on Nov. 6, the CFAC decided the proposal was worth moving forward.
At the second CFAC meeting on Nov. 13, the dean’s office presented an objective statement. They reviewed drafts of a timeline, a list of action items and alternative consultation strategies. Two students will write pro or con statements for the proposal.
The CFAC met on Nov. 20 to finalize the documents.
The 30-day public notice period will begin after the CFAC’s final meeting on Jan. 15. During this time, the CFAC will tell students about the proposal through their Student Communication Plan.
The CLA student vote will be collected during the last week of February. When the votes are tallied, they will be sent to the university president.
From there, Armstrong and Chancellor Timothy White make the final decision.
“At the end of the day, the merit of the idea either carries the vote, or it doesn’t,” Epperson said. “Whether the idea prevails or not, it’s the result of a very careful and thoughtful process driven by our desire to better serve majors — to ensure that they have opportunities equal to those students of other colleges.”