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ASI expects financial trouble ahead

Brian Cuaron, Managing Editor

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Associated Students Inc. will be making difficult cuts for the 2010-11 fiscal year because of a drop in revenue, according to Dave Edwards, ASI associate executive director.

He said that at this point ASI is “looking at cuts in a number of areas: Student employment, club funding, support of campus programs … athletics, [the Educational Opportunity Program], some arts programs.”

The reason for the cuts is twofold because of fewer students enrolled at Cal State Long Beach and a new law thar prohibits ASI from charging a summer ASI fee.

ASI President Chris Chavez said CSULB would lose about 2,000 students for the 2010-11 academic year. This will drop ASI’s revenue by about $200,000 since it depends on the $44 fee charged to each student per semester.

Making matters worse, the California State University Chancellor’s Office sent a memo to CSU presidents on March 8, which said associated students’ organizations couldn’t charge their summer ASI fee because of an education code that prohibits it.

The inability to charge summer fees will cost ASI an estimated $219,000. Altogether, Chavez said, ASI is set to lose about $400,000-$500,000 for the 2010-11 year.

“The summer fee plus enrollment fee has a reduction of 14 percent revenue loss for 2010 to 2011,” Chavez said. “One of the largest [potential] losses we’ve seen in ages.”
Difficult cuts lie ahead

Even before the chancellor’s memo on the summer ASI fee, ASI was struggling with its 2010-11 budget due to shrinking enrollment. With no revenue coming in from its usual summer fee, ASI had to stop its budgeting process and consider areas to cut.

Should the chancellor’s decision stand, Chavez said “[ASI] pretty much [would] put everything on the table as far as what would need to be cut.”

In determining which areas to cut, Chavez said ASI would need to look at its values and mission statement to see which services students can’t go without. He said the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center could be argued to be one of those services.

Chavez also said he did not want grants for student organizations to be on the chopping block, but that it has to be on the table.

According to Chavez, ASI doesn’t have much maneuverability on funding for athletics since students approved the Beach Pride referendum in 2000, which enabled ASI to charge students a $21 fee that is forwarded to athletics. Chavez added that ASI is committed to honoring that contractual obligation.

According to Christina Esparza, ASI communications coordinator, Edwards and ASI Executive Director Richard Haller collaborate with ASI managers in putting together the budget. The two then present the budget to the ASI Board of Control and ASI Senate for approval.

“Student programs we would normally choose to fund, we just don’t have the resources,” Edwards said.

Edwards also said that ASI couldn’t simply cut summer services to sidestep the losses from the prohibition on the ASI summer fee.

Why summer ASI fee is prohibited

The summer ASI fee began in 2002 when CSULB became a part of the Year Round Operations plan. According to Chavez, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed’s goal was to promote an active campus community year around.

Also, the state began funding the cost of summer instruction, which before was self-supported.

As a result, ASI was allowed to charge a summer ASI fee, which was set to be $33 this year before the chancellor’s memo came out. Before 2002, CSULB charged a $1 activity fee that it forwarded to ASI.

Due to California’s budget problems, the state has stopped subsidizing CSU summer instruction, again making it self-supported. However, the state’s education code prohibits the summer ASI fee for students solely registered in self-support programs.

Attempt to pass legislation for summer ASI fee

Upon learning about the chancellor’s memo, the California State Student Association (CSSA) — an organization that represents the associated students groups in the CSU — met with the chancellor’s staff to express their concerns.

Some people, like Chavez, were hopeful the chancellor would reverse his decision. However, Miles Nevin, executive director of CSSA, was told that the chancellor’s decision was based on the law.

“There’s nothing we can do except get the law changed,” Nevin said.

According to Nevin, CSSA is trying to get legislation introduced that would allow for associated students organizations to charge summer fees. Such an effort, however, is not guaranteed to succeed and could take awhile.

“It could take a year, two years; it could take longer,” Nevin said. “It’s our hope that it would [get passed] before the end of 2010.”



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