Although student turnout was low at the IRA (Instructionally Related Activities) open forum last Wednesday in the Cerro Vista Community Center, hopes were high for a successful turnout for the vote this week.
The IRA fee increase proposes to raise student fees from $6.95 per quarter to $10 beginning next fall. Students can vote Feb. 22 to 23.
“All the money goes directly to student programs,” said Terry Spiller, the chair of the music department. “You guys will get more bang for your buck.”
Cal Poly currently recognizes 62 IRA programs with more than 5,000 student participants. The student fee that supports these groups has not been raised in more than 13 years despite rising costs and the increase in the number of activities.
“It’s a situation of demand overriding supply,” Spiller said.
If the fee increase does not pass, there will be a 20 percent cut in funding next year for IRA programs such as Design Village, Rose Float and Cal Poly Rodeo.
“Some programs will stay the same, some will get less support, some will get none and there will be no new programs,” Spiller said.
If the fee increase passes, then programs will get additional funding, reserves that have been used over the last few years will be rebuilt and more IRA programs can be added.
“I think that this would sustain the IRA programs healthily for 10 to 15 years,” Spiller said.
Most of the students that attended the open forum were in support of the fee increase.
“Cal Poly’s motto is ‘learn by doing.’ If we want to continue learning by doing we need to support IRA-funded programs,” said Kyle Brockman, an economics freshman.
Many of the IRA activities are college-specific programs, such as the performing arts groups.
“I think your degree is worth more when Cal Poly is respected in a variety of ways,” Spiller said.
The university also uses information from IRA programs for fundraising and advertising.
Spiller mentioned the recent donations from Cal Poly alumnus Alex Spanos, a former drum major part of the IRA-funded Mustang Band, as a benefit of IRA funded programs.
“In essence, an experience in an IRA activity led to $10 million, 15 years down the line,” Spiller said.
Although IRA supporters have been trying to spread the word about the proposed increase, many students have little interest.
“I think that people are just really busy,” Spiller said. “I hope that they will go to the Web site, gather information and vote.”