“If they were trying to move forward without a majority of students in favor, I’m sure I would step in and ASI would step in,” Associated Students, Inc. President Jason Colombini said. “Ultimately, there needs to be a majority of students voting for it. And that’s a hard line.”
If Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Jason Colombini gets his way, an advisory vote on a College of Liberal Arts (CLA) fee increase will directly affect whether or not the fee is implemented.
CLA students will vote on whether to implement a $112 quarterly College-Based Fee late February. After hearing the students’ response, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong will make the final call.
“If they were trying to move forward without a majority of students in favor, I’m sure I would step in and ASI would step in. Ultimately, there needs to be a majority of students voting for it. And that’s a hard line.” — ASI President Jason Colombini
Though Armstrong isn’t technically required to take the vote into consideration, Colombini said he would object if the university president tries to pass any resolution other than the students’ expressed preference.
“If they were trying to move forward without a majority of students in favor, I’m sure I would step in and ASI would step in,” Colombini said. “Ultimately, there needs to be a majority of students voting for it. And that’s a hard line.”
The fee increase would go toward educational add-ons, hiring additional CLA professors and opening more sections of popular classes.
The university followed standard protocol by giving students a 30-day waiting period between the announcement of the vote and its implementation.
Students last voted on a fee increase in February 2012, when they recommended by a narrow margin to approve the Student Success Fee, which is now in effect.
University officials have used the Student Success Fee as a rough model to conduct the new vote, Campus Fee Advisory Committee (CFAC) representative and political science junior Jeff Thomson said.
While full-time employees and elected students handle most administrative matters, the entire student body needs to have a say on tuition changes, Thomson said.
“The student body is voting because it is a fee that directly involves them … just as the student body voted on the Student Success Fee,” he wrote in an email to Mustang News. “Elected officials such as the ASI Board of Directors are not involved because this concerns one particular college and not the university as a whole.”
Thomson said he expects most CLA students to vote, since the fee would directly affect their personal finances and education.
“I think the voter turnout will be high per the nature of the proposal,” he said. “The CLA has always had high voter turnout, and its students are very passionate about their education. I think the vote will be close either way.”
ASI has not yet decided whether students will vote through the My Cal Poly Portal or through a campus-wide email, Thomson said.
CLA put up flyers around campus advertising the programs that extra money would go towards. Students must decide whether the improvements are worth an additional $336 per academic year — a total of $1,344 over a four-year student’s college career. Part-time students pay half the cost, $56 per quarter.
The increase would bring College-Based Fees up to $291 per quarter for liberal arts students, which is the current rate of every other academic college.
Though Colombini is normally hesitant to advocate extra spending, he said the equalizing effect would benefit CLA students.
“Normally, you should be wary about a fee increase, but this is one just to put them in balance with the other colleges,” he said. “If anything, it’s kind of surprising that it wasn’t balanced to begin with.”
Child development junior Rick Gallegos, who described himself as a student publicizer and “deputy” to CLA Dean Doug Epperson, said he often heard talks of raising tuition during his two years at Cuesta College.
Cuesta students grew frustrated when tuition increased with no explanation, Gallegos said. Promotional tools like the flyers and a soon-to-be-released video are supposed to advertise the services the fee increase would provide.
“(Cuesta) always threatened an increase, but they never specify why,” Gallegos said. “It’s really nice to actually hear an explanation.”
Epperson’s office has done most of the legwork for the proposed fee increase, like drafting language and analyzing which programs need additional boosting.
Epperson has hosted two open forums on the proposal since the announcement of a vote. Additional forums will be held Feb. 18 and 19 at 6:10 p.m. in Science North (building 53), room 215 and Feb. 20 at 6:10 p.m. in the Julian A. McPhee University Union (building 65), room 220.