Almost exactly three years after the California State University chancellor overturned a student-approved vote to increase fees to supplement state funding shortfalls, the Cal Poly student body will make another shot at charging themselves more for school.
But whether students participate enough this time around to even get a fee increase in front of the chancellor is another question.
On Feb. 29, Cal Poly students will vote online whether to implement a so-called “Success Fee” of $160 per quarter for all students, effective this upcoming fall quarter. Over the next two years, the fee would increase by $50 every fall quarter, capping off at $260 per quarter in fall 2014.
Given the severe cuts in state funding to the CSU system over the last three years, Cal Poly administrators say the fees are necessary to maintain the university’s high standards.
The fees are projected to generate approximately $14 million over the next three years, according to Associate Vice Provost Kimi Ikeda. Administrators plan to use the majority of those funds to increase student access to courses and laboratories, increase retention and graduation rates, and encourage the university’s trademark “Learn by Doing” experiences.
As a secondary goal, the university hopes to also promote ethnic diversity, support student athletics, and provide for additional student counseling services, according to a university statement.
Should the student body opt for the advisory fee, Cal Poly President Jeff Armstrong would decide whether to recommend it to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, who has final approval.
Cal Poly students voted for a somewhat similar fee increase in February 2009, when students OK’d an increase in their college-based fees. Then-President Warren Baker recommended the fee; Reed turned it down.
According to CSU Spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp, the chancellor has given no indication as to how he’ll rule this time around, but Uhlenkamp noted that in 2009, there was more uncertainty with the state budget and the possibility of receiving federal stimulus funds during the prior vote.
“This time, we know how bad it is,” Uhlenkamp told New Times.
Cal Poly ASI President Kiyana Tabrizi organized a task force to inform students about the vote, including workshops, forums, and presentations to student organizations. But she admitted turnout at the forums has been “disappointing.”
“Just as an observation, after [students] become educated, then they become concerned,” Tabrizi said. “It’s not that I think students don’t care, I think they’re just too busy to invest themselves in learning.”
According to Ikeda, student participation will play a factor in whether Armstrong decides to honor the student vote.
Cal Poly will hold two more open forums, on Feb. 27 and 28, in the University Union, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.