New committee will try to remind students of obligations

Daily Sundial

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A new, unnamed university committee will be formed to develop an informational campaign to relay the importance of monitoring payment deadlines and the various financial obligations students have to the university.

The forming of the committee comes after the Aug. 17 disenrollment of 1,431 students for nonpayment following two extended deadlines. Approximately 300 of those students reenrolled, according to Robert Barker, university controller.

The 1,431 figure represented a 65 percent spike in dropped students for nonpayment from the year prior, and some students claimed that poor notification had led to their delinquency.

Terry Piper, vice president for Student Affairs, said the focus of the committee’s primary work would be on the future, and on the relaying of information to students.

“We’re not looking into what occurred,” he said, adding that what the university will do is develop an information campaign to educate students on their financial obligations regarding student fees and tuition.

Members of the committee, in addition to Piper, include Bill Hardy, director in Information Technology Resources; Marieanne Rouse from Student Outreach and Recruitment; Karla Johnson-Majedi, director of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Student Development and Equity Center; Ken Swisher, director of marketing communications for Public Relations; and Gordon Nakagawa, associate dean for the College of Humanities.

The committee’s campaign will attempt to get students to check their CSUN e-mail accounts, as messages about enrollment and payment deadlines will only be available through student e-mail accounts in the future, replacing paper mailed out letters.

The campaign will be the final notification that the university will make about e-mail being the official method of university-student communication. Piper said the informational campaign would likely launch toward the second half of the semester.

This semester, the original payment deadline was Aug. 1, and because so many payments went unpaid, the university extended the deadline to Aug. 15. Some students have claimed that a lack of notification contributed to their nonpayments. Barker said in future semesters they would not extend payment deadlines for outstanding balances.

Associated Students President Chad Charton said a serious effort has to be made to better inform students about fee deadlines.

“The figures speak for themselves,” Charton said in reference to the Aug. 17 disenrolled figures.

Charton said he was not aware that a committee was being formed to address student fee deadlines. He said he believes, however, that the formation of the committee was a good idea to focus on the problem, and that the venture is worth pursing.

Joannes Pamatmat, a CSUN student, was dropped from her classes during the Spring 2005 semester due to late payment. She said she cannot recall receiving any e-mail reminding her to pay her enrollment fee and admits that she forgot to pay.

“I think it should have been brought to my attention better,” Pamatmat said. She said she did not receive a confirmation e-mail or letter after enrolling into her classes that could have prompted her to pay.

There is a very high compliance, however, among new CSUN students who set up their e-mail accounts, Piper said.

If the university has the capacity to send out information through e-mail as opposed to mail service, it will do so, Piper said, adding that there are still some materials that will need to be mailed out.

E-mail became the official method of university communication in 2004.

Students have a financial obligation much like they do with their credit cards, Piper said. It would cost the university more to send out reminder letters and make phone calls to individual students than it would to e-mail them, he added.

Other problems may also arise when sending information through the mail, such as letters taking much longer to arrive, and important documents ending up at a student’s parents’ home instead of a student’s apartment, Barker said.

Piper said utilizing the e-mail service is the logical process for the upcoming semesters so that they could be consistent with deadlines and information, Piper said.

“We will not accept the excuse that they didn’t know,” Piper said, adding that it will be the student’s responsibility to inquire on their scheduled payment deadlines and enrollments through their CSUN e-mail accounts.

The formation of the new committee could compliment the Integrated Communication Committee, chaired by Vice President for Undergraduate Studies Cynthia Rawitch. The purpose of that committee is to review the entire university-student communication model and determine what, if any, information is repetitive, confusing or contradictory.

Richard Barkinskiy can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.