As students prepare to protest in Sacramento on Monday against budget cuts to California’s higher education institutions, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students voted to support a proposed campus fee increase increase Wednesday.
In an effort to generate an estimated $14 million within three years to offset state budget cuts, the “student success fee” would gradually increase tuition over a three-year period starting with an increase of $160 per academic quarter in fall 2012 and working up to a $260 increase in fall 2014, according to the Mustang Daily student newspaper.
More than 7,000 votes were cast and about 57 percent of students voted in favor of the proposal, according to a Feb. 29 campus press release. However, the referendum also requires approval by Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong and CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
“The president is reviewing all the voting information and endorsements in order to make the best possible decision for Cal Poly,” said campus spokesperson Stacia Momburg.
A campus fee advisory committee chiefly comprised of students and members of the campus Associated Students, Inc — Cal Poly’s student government body — approved of the proposal, which was submitted by campus administrators to preserve programs unique to the campus, according to Associated Students, Inc. President Kiyana Tabrizi.
She added that despite support of voluntarily increasing fees, Cal Poly students believe that Sacramento should make education a priority.
“I am completely on board with (the) fight, and I believe every student on our campus is as well,” Tabrizi said. “We want the legislature to reinvest in our education.”
Chris Alabastro, the executive vice president of the ASUC — UC Berkeley’s student government body — said conditions must be extreme at Cal Poly for students to vote to increase fees. He said that referendums passed at UC Berkeley — such as an initiative to renovate Lower Sproul Plaza — have usually been student-initiated.
“I’m not sure about (a proposal) to offset budget cuts, but it’s actually a unique point of view,” he said.
Tabrizi said she is prepared for various reactions from other CSU campuses, students and organizations supporting free education.
“A lot of students come to Cal Poly, because there is an education that is comparable to a lot of distinguished and valuable UC’s, yet the cost is so much less expensive,” Tabrizi said. “You have to think about who is coming next and what this means for them.”