Associated Students, Inc. President Joi Sullivan. | Photo courtesy of Joi Sullivan

Jessica Nguyen

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The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors voted that the implementation of student success fees is subject to a binding student vote. The board also approved other recommendations for the mandatory fee implementation on Jan. 28.

“It gives students, in policy, the final say on whether there is a fee or there isn’t,” ASI President Joi Sullivan said. “So if 51 percent of students vote no (to having a student success fee), then it doesn’t happen. Now that it’s more specific, there is less interpretation.”

The CSU Board of Trustees created a working group, including Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong and two students, to vote on approved policy recommendations that were presented to the California state legislature before
Feb. 1.

These policy recommendations resolved concerns Sullivan had pertaining to the prior process outlined in Executive Order 1054, approved by former CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. Reed was replaced by Timothy P. White, who pushed for more student input in determining the fee.

“The process has been such that they (White) encourage a referendum, meaning a student vote for the student population on the campus,” Sullivan said. “If the president decides it is not an accurate representation or has a good reason not to do a referendum, then they do alternative consultation.”

Alternative consultation consists of speaking with different student groups on campus and gathering information on what their opinions are on a proposed mandatory fee.

Overall results are then reported to White, who decides whether or not to sign off on the fee.

A rigorous consultation process must be initiated before a binding student vote occurs to inform individuals of the impact and cost of the proposed student success fee. This required process also applies if a campus decides to increase a student success fee.

In addition, student success fee proposals cannot be brought before the student body more than once a year. Newly enacted student success fees will be enforced for at least six years.

“You have to go through a whole student body vote if you want to get rid of this fee,”
Sullivan said.

If students vote to rescind the fee, portions of the fee used to support ongoing obligations will remain until current obligations are satisfied.

The imposition of a fee also remains dependent on the approval of the university president and chancellor. Furthermore, approved resolutions explicitly state if the proposed student success fee is used directly for instructional purposes previously covered by state funding, the chancellor must consult with the Board of Trustees before final approval is given.

“People are concerned about the amount of fees appearing on CSU campuses,” Sullivan said. “We spend a lot of money on faculty and staff. Those kinds of costs were covered by state compensation, so there was a debate on whether those fees should be used to cover
those costs.”

With the policy revisions, individual campuses are ensured the right to decide what they want to put their fee funding toward, including faculty
and staff.

At $780 per student, Cal Poly’s student success fee fund totals $14.9 million per year. According to the Cal Poly Student Success Fee Allocation Proposal for 2014-15, approximately $9.2 million is channeled toward access to additional classes.

“As a polytechnic university, we have some of the most ‘expensive’ majors, and with reduced state funding, the $14.9 million from the student success fee is necessary,” Board of Directors Vice Chair Myra Lukens said in an email to
Mustang News.

The Student Success Fee Allocation Advisory Committee (SSFAAC), consisting of 11 voting members (including seven students), was created to ensure student needs are being met.

“Right now, what they’re doing is talking about what things are a priority to them to learn more about, to explore for potential funding,” Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said.

Current and past student success fee allocations are available online at afd.calpoly.edu.

“Cal Poly’s student success fee has been critical in supporting our Learn By Doing philosophy and overall student success during curtailment of state general-fund revenues,” Lukens said.

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