Students were amongst the first to hear about a proposed Associate Students (AS) Fee increase during the General Council Meeting hosted by Inter Club Council at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Nov. 7.
Starting next academic year, if students and AS Senate approve, students will see the AS Fee nearly double.
CSUMB’s current AS fee is $96 a year. Under the latest proposal, that would increase to $180 a year. With the increased budget, AS no longer would need to rely on a reserve to fund events, clubs and organizations on campus. Their budget would increase from $800k to $1.1 million.
With the increased AS budget, students can expect an increase in funding for the clubs on campus, which serve nearly 40% of the student population. They can offer more scholarships, such as the AS book and capstone scholarships. They can also expand the number and quality of programs and events (including weekend nights and weekend options) and increase subsidized student tickets and excursions offered by the AS Box Office to more entertainment venues in Monterey and Southern California. This is also what is funding the farmers market, MB madness, Otter Showcase, Otterlands and the Lutrinae.
CSUMB’s current AS fee has remained unchanged since 2003. Compared to other CSU campuses with under 11,000 students enrolled, the average AS cost is 133.6% higher than CSUMB’s. Only CSU Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego have lower AS fees than CSUMB, but their average enrollment is 29,236 students.
With the current proposed timeline given by AS, the campaign will go live at the start of the next semester, with tabling expected to start in February. Elections themselves are being held sometime in March where students have the opportunity to vote.
If students vote for the approval of the fee increase and the AS Senate approves it at their meeting in April, students can expect starting the 2022-23 academic year to see an increase in their AS fee, but also more campus events.
Students the Lutrinae interviewed about the issue were split over this proposed fee increase.
“I question what the extra fee pays for. I like the clubs at school and clubs make it more fun. I don’t mind paying extra if it helps the clubs and the community,” said second-year Albert Hejmada.
Hejmada added he doesn’t know how it directly affects him.
“This is the first time I heard about this and I don’t know how much I pay either,” he said.
Fourth-year Evie Holl doesn’t share the same enthusiasm as Hejmada.
“I’m not educated on the fees that are contributed to AS and I know they are increasing due to inflation,” Holl said. “Students here don’t earn that much money, so it’s not that realistic for students to pay more when money isn’t being provided by the school on a weekly basis.”
Holl is referring to students like herself who are low-income and rely on FAFSA and scholarships.
“FAFSA is only paid each semester depending on income and family,” she said, “It would be better if they distributed funds each month and not each semester. It would be more beneficial to students.”
However, like Hejmada, Holl doesn’t know how much the AS fee currently is.
While apprehensive at first, after learning a bit more about what the increased fee entails, Holl’s opinions changed.
“I feel different about this now knowing more,” Holl said. “Raising prices without giving knowledge to the students isn’t fair and it isn’t really covering the immediate needs of students, such as the Basic Needs. I haven’t seen evidence that [the money] is helping [the Basic Needs]. I wish they would be more transparent with this information.
“Funds would better be used if distributed to students somehow. Because of the global recession, this is money many of us don’t have. It is tricky and I can see both sides because it is a way of helping students.”
Holl stressed the importance of transparency to the students when it comes to information like potential fee increases.
“I would like more transparent mass emails sent out if they are communicating with the faculty so they can share this information with the students. Transparency is an issue amongst CSU campuses which impacts students and CSUMB is no exception,” Holl said.
Hejimada also agreed on the importance of transparency.
“Send out an email, I would like to know why the fees are increasing,” Hejmada said.
Hejmada felt positive about the potential fee increases, eager to see how the money would benefit students.
“I feel more positive toward it. Because I know it’s going toward something that will benefit a lot of students. Many people I know use the Basic Needs and I know it benefits them. Clubs and events boost campus morale and it’s fun to connect with other students at club events,” Hejmada said.
If you’d like to make your voice heard on this, email [email protected] and we’ll publish some of the best responses. Also make sure to keep an eye out next semester for when voting will take place.