Associated Students weigh in on proposed fee

Last Friday the Associated Students met to continue discussions about the possible implementation of a campus-wide student success fee.

The fee, which was proposed by President Ruben Armiñana and Provost Andrew Rogerson, would be mandatory and would be intended for increasing class availability by hiring more faculty to create more classes, improving academic and career advising for all majors as well as undeclared students, and to provide more scholarship opportunities to students.

The funds would be distributed among these specific categories in order to further assist students in reaching their goal to graduate in a four to five year span. 

Two weeks ago, Rogerson told the Associated Students that the administration would not feel comfortable implementing the fee without their support. The Associated Students Senate plans to reconvene next week with their details of input and feedback about the proposed fee.

At Sonoma State University, only 25 percent of students receive a Bachelor’s degree in a four-year period as opposed to 56 percent who finish in a six-year period. Armiñana and Rogerson estimated the fee to be no more than $250 a semester ($500 per year), providing  $4 million a year to be used towards academics. 

To decide whether the fee is to be implemented or not, under California State University Executive Order 1054, there are two options by which Armiñana and the Campus Fee Advisory Committee can go about executing the fee. The first option would be a by referendum through a campus-wide vote where students would be able to vote. The second option is Alternative Consultation in which Armiñana would consult a representative sample of campus members with help from the Fee Advisory Committee (FAC).

According to Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Matthew Lopez-Phillips, who was present at the Associated Students Senate meeting on Jan. 31, the “white sheet” detailing the allocation of funds for the proposed fee will be completed by Feb. 15 for Armiñana to review.

The plan would take the Associated Students’ input into account, and will receive a large amount of input from the Fee Advisory Committee to provide a financial analysis of the fee. 

If the fee is deemed necessary, the administration hopes to make the fee official by April 15, thereby ensuring that it will be in effect for the fall 2014 semester. 

With a plan being constructed, students will be able to learn more concrete details of exactly where the money for the fee will be dispersed and will further aid them in decide if they really want to execute the fee. 

Some members of the community have voiced the fear that implementing such a fee could decrease the overall diversity of the campus by making it less feasible for students of low-income to attend. 

According to the California State University Pell Grant percentages, which universities use to measure the levels of diversity of its students, Sonoma State is ranked second to last with  34 percent of its students receiving Pell Grants. 

“I am not strongly against the fee because of its goals towards improving our academics, but I do feel SSU would lose a sense of diversity if the fee in put into effect,” said Mariah Villegas, a first-year history major. “Having to pay an extra fee at SSU as opposed to other CSUs who do not include this with tuition is definitely a negative influence.”

Associated Students President Mac Hart said that Associated Students plans on hosting many open forums for students and staff to attend to further educate themselves on the fee and for them be able to ask questions, as well as provide insight to assist the Associated Students on creating an effective plan for Sonoma State.