Graphic by Louise Dolby

The Campus Fee Advisory Committee (CFAC) is considering a proposal to increase student Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) fees. If it is approved, the proposal will be on the ballot for students winter quarter.

The referendum would only affect non-athletics IRA programs, which include agriculture judging, rodeo, the equestrian team, musical ensembles, art exhibits, the solar car club, campus media, Rose Float team and many others.

“For several years a financial problem has been developing for Cal Poly’s program of non-athletics Instructionally Related Activities,” music department Chair William T. Spiller said. “Increases in the sources of funding have failed to keep up with increases in the requested uses of funds by an ever-growing number of IRA-eligible activities.”

The Instructionally Related Activities Advisory Committee (IRAAC), comprised of administrators, faculty and students, will take a preliminary vote on the proposal before it is put in the hands of students. The IRAAC’s primary function is to advise the president on the allocation of IRA fee revenues, according to the Web site.

The current non-athletics IRA fee is $6.94 per quarter for students. The proposed increase would be $10.00, making the quarterly fee for students $16.94. Spiller said the proposal contains no other phased increases.

“One-time funds (mostly from the state general fund and Cal Poly Academic Affairs) have provided additional support for IRA activities recently, but this money is going away next year,” he said.

With the decrease in sources of funding, Spiller said net funds for the 2006-07 year would decrease by about $121,000.

Eight newly eligible programs were added in 2005-06, but the number is usually more like two or three, said Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Undergraduate Education W. David Conn.

“The first to gain would be current programs, whose budgets have suffered a lot in the last 10 to 15 years,” Spiller said. “Second to benefit will be those new programs which arise because some funding will be available for growth. IRA applicants receive a very rigorous review, so new programs will be held to the same level of accountability as current programs.”

With programs being added regularly, Spiller said the increase is necessary to sustain the existing and forthcoming programs.

“If the referendum doesn’t pass, a number of programs would see their budgets cut, others would most likely be eliminated, and it would be difficult to start up new IRA programs,” Spiller said.

Conn said the fee increase would help IRA programs be financially stable for the future.

“Since Cal Poly has built its reputation in part on the level of participation of its students… we believe it is especially important at this university to maintain and possibly enhance an ongoing and financially secure IRA program,” Conn said.

Both the CFAC and the IRAAC are co-chaired by the ASI president and have many student voting members. Focus groups have also been held to find out student reactions to the proposed fee raise.

To find out more information about the proposal and IRA programs in general, visit www.academics.calpoly.edu/IRA.

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