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ASI to propose system wide fee in January

The voluntary fee would generate an additional $800,000 in revenue for CSSA.

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Associated Students Inc. President John Haberstroh and Vice President Jonathon Bolin proposed a voluntary $1 to $2 student fee at the California State Student Association meeting Saturday to increase funding for the organization.

The idea was met by positive responses from the other CSSA board members at the meeting, Haberstroh said. Moving forward, the two ASI executives said they will work toward a formal California State Student Association (CSSA) resolution in support of the fee.

“For the most part, people were on board with it,” Haberstroh said. “A lot of people want to know the details, specific numbers and specific lines. That’ll be in the legislation.”

The CSSA Board of Directors is comprised of student body presidents from all 23 campuses in the Cal State University system. As the largest student organization in the country, CSSA collectively represents the more than 400,000 students in the Cal State University system, according to the organization’s website.

Bolin said CSSA’s budget is too small to conduct meaningful advocacy for students, and the semesterly fee would enhance the organization’s ability to serve the students.

“Since I’ve been in CSSA, we’ve needed to have a funding model because right now, it’s just not working out,” Bolin said. “We represent more than 400,000 students, and we have membership dues of about $300,000.”

Haberstroh also said there will be an opt-out option of the fee for students who do not want to pay it.

“If students paid this fee — which would be voluntary and people could opt out of — our hope is that it will get students more involved at the state-wide level in lobbying and fulfill our shared governance requirements with the [CSU] Chancellor’s Office,” Haberstroh said.

Haberstroh said he hopes to pass a CSSA resolution that will lead to a proposed bill in the state legislature to implement the fee. If passed, the fee could increase CSSA’s annual budget by an estimated $800,000.

“There are a surprising amount of people in the state Legislature who are [alumni] of CSSA and the CSU, so they would be our go-to people,” Haberstroh said.

A resolution supporting the fee will be introduced and voted on at a CSSA meeting in Fullerton in January, Haberstroh said.

CSSA Executive Director Miles Nevin said similar proposals by other student leaders have been raised in the past.

“The outcome was that those fees were never achieved or passed,” Nevin said. “CSSA is a voluntary organization, and those members pay a membership dues rate.

CSSA’s budget is approximately $627,000 per year, of which $289,000 comes from allocations from the CSU system and the Chancellor’s Office, Nevin said. The other $338,000 comes from membership dues and other fundraisers.

Bolin said idea for the CSSA fee stemmed from a similar $1 fee that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and instituted across the California Community College Student Affairs Association, a statewide student organization for the community college system.

Some students, like junior biology major Zoila Medina, said they think the fee could be a good thing.

“Right now it doesn’t sound bad, but it’s unsure if it’ll be beneficial in the long term or if they’ll increase the fees later,” Medina said.

Senior environmental science and policy major Alec Krueger said he agreed with Medina.

“If the $1 or $2 fee happens, then as long as students are informed, then it should be okay,” he said.

Nevin said the CSU is a large university system that the state Legislature and CSU Board of Trustees can influence in a lot of ways.

“I think we do a good job at being engaged in Sacramento and the Chancellor’s Office, and even in a limited way at the federal level,” Nevin said.
“I think what [Haberstroh and Bolin] are getting at with the proposal [is] achieving a funding model that’s truly independent that allows students to fund the organization.”

Haberstroh said he thinks the resolution will pass at the January meeting. If it passes, he hopes to have a state legislator bring the idea to the Legislature in the spring semester.

Managing Editor Courtney Tompkins contributed to this report.

 

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