Students to vote on major A.S. fee increase

Sam Womack

Originally Published October 5, 2006

If the Associated Students and Instructionally Related Activities fee referendums are passed this November, then next semester will include a $15 increase in A.S. fees and a $17 increase in fall 2007 (the extra $2 is the result of a 2002 A.S. fees referendum). CSUN tuition, a year from now, would include $119 in A.S. and I.R.A. fees. The fee would continue to increase until at least 2012.

According to the 2006 voter pamphlet and A.S. General Manager David Crandall, I.R.A. fees have not been raised from $15 per semester since 1979. The Instructionally Related Activities fee is designed to specifically support student projects, productions, publications and intercollegiate athletics separate from A.S. government and programs, and there are detailed guidelines for what it cannot be used for.

The A.S. fee is currently at $72 with a $2 set annual increase, but the referendum this year is for a one-time $15 increase to be applied in the spring of 2007. In the 2006-2007 A.S. budget overview, the total of student A.S. fees in the summer and fall of 2005 and spring of 2006 was $4,716,000. Less than half went to university programs, clubs and organizations, while the rest went to A.S. government, programs, services and support.

According to A.S. finance director Adam Haverstock, without these fee increases, A.S. will be hard pressed to offer the little support it has been able to in the past.

Crandall said, though, “We’re not going to dry up and blow away if it’s denied.”

A.S. senators, administrators and advisers began looking for ways to generate more money after the creation and report of the Blue Ribbon Commission of Intercollegiate Athletics. The report said the university, students and external sources of revenue should share the intercollegiate athletics budget equally.

Haverstock says the I.R.A. fee increase will allow for a shift in intercollegiate athletic funds and free up money in the A.S. budget.

If the A.S. fee referendum is passed, then the one-time $15 increase will be allocated as follows: $5 will be allocated to intercollegiate athletics grants-in-aid; $4 to the A.S. Children’s Center; $3 to A.S. programs and services; $2 to Student Productions and Campus Entertainment; and $1 to the Academically Related Reserves Account.

In the most recent A.S. annual budget, $1,471,535 is allocated to grants-in-aid for the Intercollegiate Athletics Department under the university programs section. The I.R.A. money cannot be used for athletic grants-in-aid and the A.S. budget does not include other intercollegiate allocation except for recreation sports and the fitness center, under A.S. programs and services. According to the fall 2006 voter’s pamphlet, $29 per person per semester would be allocated for athletic grants-in-aid.

Only $567,138 is allocated to university programs, clubs and organizations when the allocated athletic money is deducted. On the other hand, A.S. allocates $1,145,318 to A.S. support, which covers costs that do not really apply to other areas of A.S. finance, according to Haverstock.

Special Projects Assistant and A.S. Co-director of Finance Bryanne Knight said that they are working on more adequately defining the A.S. support section and hopes that in the future it will be more detailed.

This year the A.S. Children’s Center will reapply for a substantial grant, meaning that the money is not guaranteed and funds will significantly decrease. In the annual budget, the Children’s Center revenue is $750,000 and A.S. allocates $428,536, a total of $1,178,536. The Children’s Center is open to students, faculty and the surrounding community. Crandall admitted, “We think we might be undercharging faculty and community members.” The Children’s Center is also supported by the Capital Reserves fund.

The Capital or Technological Reserves fund is made up of unallocated monies unused at the end of the fiscal year. With this reserves fund, A.S. was able to buy a new computer for the Children’s Center, according to Knight, approve a new camera for A.S. Marketing and P.R. in the last senate meeting, and purchase new furniture and equipment for the A.S. offices, according to Haverstock.

Funds allocated throughout the year to clubs, organizations and university programs, if not used, are swept into reserve accounts. Half goes to Unallocated Reserves, which is available to clubs, organizations and A.S. programs. Last Tuesday, the A.S. Senate allocated $6,600 for new polos for all A.S. staff and students from the unallocated reserves fund.

“We could have gotten new polos last year but we gave money to Hurricane Katrina instead,” Haverstock said.

The other half goes to the Capital or Technological Reserves.

The A.S. programs and services section refers to ticketing services, the recycling program, intramural sports and the fitness center. More than $400,000 is already allocated to these programs in the annual budget, not including the individual revenue the programs bring in.

Haverstock said with the increased budget they hope to expand the recycling program to include more of the campus. The green trash cans with the recycling symbol on them are only located in a small portion of CSUN, but the program costs $160,064, more than $100,000 of which goes to staff compensation.

The $2 allocated to A.S. S.P.A.C.E. will be strictly for the Big Show. S.P.A.C.E. is the only section of A.S. that is not fully funded in the budget or fully supported by the senate. Like other university clubs and organizations, S.P.A.C.E. is expected to raise money through fundraising, corporate sponsors and ticket sales.

According to Haverstock, S.P.A.C.E. is estimated to be $20,000 over budget this year for Big Show alone, though formal paperwork confirming this has not been generated. Haverstock said, however, that S.P.A.C.E. generated an estimated $20,000 from Big Show 6 tickets sold to non-CSUN students this year. Once again, the figure is awaiting formal confirmation, but the revenue would balance out the over-spending if the estimated amounts are correct.

The Academically Related Reserves Account is available to students in need of funds for research and other academically related activities. This year $31,000 was available and with the A.S. fee increase, almost $100,000 should be available to fund student requests. According to the finance committee, for student convention and trips $400 is the maximum allocation, and is to be used specifically for travel. The rest is expected to come out of pocket or from the academic department.

The I.R.A fee begins with a $15 increase per semester in fall 2007 and will increase $5 more per semester each subsequent year. In the I.R.A. financial projection, when the fee is $50 per semester in the 2011-12 school year, the total annual revenue would be $3.8 million. A little more than half will go to athletics while the rest will go to the other programs on campus. However, in the 2011-12 school year the IRA revenues will be split evenly between the two categories, according to the voter’s pamphlet.

Many students on campus will not benefit from the fee increases because they do not participate in the programs affected. Instead of a school-wide tuition increase, course fees and higher non-tuition costs could be implemented. Students who want to be involved in clubs, organizations, programs and athletics would be the ones to cover the costs or hold fundraisers to support their financial needs.