The executive branch of CSUN has infringed the student’s right to vote. They have stripped the rights of students to voice their decisions, not opinions, but their decisions on a significant issue that will ultimately tax the students for more money to compensate for resources that many would disagree with.
CSUN President Jolene Koester has decided that the fate of the Campus Quality Fee Proposal, which will raise student fees, will be entirely in her hands. She has declared “alternative consultation,” which denies students the right to vote on raising student fees.
College students are responsible for bills, rent, tuition, textbooks, gas and other financial necessities to get through school. With the economy in a slump as gas prices continue to climb, food prices increase and minimum wage at a measly eight dollars in California, the last thing students need is another raise in our tuition. Let’s not forget the thousands of dollars of student loans we take out to go to college that we eventually must pay back in a timely fashion along with the unwanted interest.
Not every student has the luxury of compensating with the financial challenges of attending college with a steady stream of money. A lot of students have to work full-time or part-time to pay their way for school, in addition to maintaining a decent grade point average.
Almost half of the money collected from students’ fees would go to the athletics department to fund athletic scholarships, equipment and raise campus spirit.
Athletics are extracurricular activities the last time I checked. I don’t think you can obtain a bachelor’s degree in baseball, basketball, or volleyball. The fact of the matter is participating in school sports is an individual choice by the student, who should also accept the financial responsibility that comes with being on the team, just like any student who is obligated to pay tuition fees to enroll in college. It’s not fair to burden the fiscal portion upon the entire student body.
As far as campus spirit and being competitive in the Big West conference, most students simply don’t care on how our sports teams compete with other schools. I think most students would agree that our highest priority as a student is to obtain that bachelors degree and to start a meaningful and financially stable career.
The President should not impose these fees upon the students. It is preposterous that in deciding the approval of the proposal the president has decided to use alternative consultation.
During my interview with CSUN Provost Harry Hellenbrand, I asked him why he thought alternative consultation was better as opposed to a student referendum. He replied that alternative consultation gives the students the chance to voice their opinions as opposed to just a reply.
Alternative consultation provided students the opportunity to comment on the website, they held forums for students and faculty, and sent out surveys to random students concerning the resources that the fees would fund.
Doesn’t voting on an issue already implicate one’s opinion, and more importantly one’s decision to support or not? Yes, it is true that there are low turnouts during referendums, but it is unjust to revoke the rights to vote entirely.
The referendum in 2006, which dealt with raising student fees to support A.S. and IRA (Instructionally Related Activities), which is on this proposal again, was voted down. This demonstrated the willingness of those who are informed about the issues and who do get involved. I rather have my fellow students represent my vote over administration any day. The fact that the fees were turned down exhibits the privilege and importance of voting. Alternative consultation gives the students the right to their opinions, but that’s as far as it goes.
Provost Hellenbrand was right about one thing, as far as upholding one’s civic duty as a citizen or as a student at a university, most students are to busy to know or care about issues that are going to affect them.
It was no surprise to me that while conducting my interviews and asking random students how they felt about the proposal, that nobody had a clue that the proposal even existed. After a brief explanation of the proposal and how it affects students, a common reaction of disbelief spelled the students into a trance. Some students didn’t seem to care when asked how they felt about the proposal. Some even refused to comment or reveal their names for some mysterious reason.
It seems that the more we ignore those in power, the larger our problems become. It is not the students’ fault that we have been stripped of our rights to vote on these rising expenses that the president will likely impose on us, however, it is the students’ fault for ignoring the issues affecting them as we often complain and speculate when it’s too late.