Two days before students cast an advisory vote on the proposed college-based fee increase, the university held a forum yesterday to discuss the referendum and answer student questions.
Although the administration has not explicitely encouraged students to vote either for or against the proposed increase, administrators at the forum described the benefits they say students would reap from the extra fees. If passed, the referendum will raise all full-time students’ tuition to $362 per quarter effective fall 2009, and augment $200 until 2011.
Although the student vote is considered advisory – rather than decisive – to Cal Poly President Baker, Kimi M. Ikeda, assistant vice provost for systems and resource management and a speaker at the forum, said Baker has never before acted contrary to the student body’s vote on a proposal and is unlikely to do so for this referendum.
Still, despite the magnitude of the proposal, only 10 students showed up to the forum, a number Ikeda said was disappointing.
However, she said the university expects a larger turnout come voting day on Wednesday.
“We’re hoping for a 38 percent (of the student body) turnout. If it’s a 10 percent turnout, that’s pathetic and sad,” she said. “I don’t think (the) president will listen to the 10 percent.”
Business sophomore Daniel Schwartz was among the attendants. He said he wasn’t satisfied with the answers the administration offered.
“It only solidified my decision to vote no,” he said.
Linda H. Halisky, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, warned students about the consequences of voting no on the CBF increase. She said state budget cuts would make it unrealistic to “get you graduated in a reasonable amount of time.”
This prompted Schwartz to ask whether the administration has considered cutting its own salaries amidst the crisis.
Ikeda replied that 97 percent of the administration is underpaid, especially compared to private-sector jobs.
“Baker’s pay is peanuts compared to a CEO,” she said. “He takes this kind of pay to do public service.”
The forum opened with background information about how the increase came about. Ikeda described the pressure placed on Cal Poly by the Chancellor’s Office in recent years to increase enrollment with the incentive that they were going to be funded appropriately. The state, however, which is dealing with its own budget crisis, has not provided the university with funding proportionate to the increase in enrollment.
Schwartz said he was originally attracted to Cal Poly because of small class sizes and said he was disappointed that the university buckled under state pressure.
“It frustratProxy-Connection: keep-alive me… because I feel like a lot of it’s about political pressure to do certain things and they don’t have the integrity to stand up for what Cal Poly stands for, like the small student to teacher ratio,” he said.
In order to continue Cal Poly’s quality of education, Ikeda said that the university isn’t just asking students to vote for the increase; it is also fundraising to increase scholarships for students and endowments for professors.
Regarding impact on financial aid dependent students, Ikeda said their best option for affording a fee increase would probably be to take out additional loans.