UCLA graduate students to vote on fee increase

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The UCLA Graduate Students Association voted March 7 to place a referendum on the spring campus election ballot that would increase fees for graduate students by $5 per quarter.

The referendum fee would go toward rising costs resulting from reduced funding of graduate student programs that were previously covered by campus departments and schools, according to the referendum.

Michael Weismeyer, president of the association, said in an email that the association currently relies on a short-term surplus of money left over from previous years to cover these costs. This is not the first instance of self-imposed fee increases by students at UCLA, according to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein — students have voted to raise their own fees in the past to fund various projects on campus.

According to Weismeyer, the rising costs facing the association make it imperative that the referendum, which requires a 10 percent voter turnout according to the Daily Bruin, be approved in the spring elections. The fee would support services such as the Graduate Writing Center and graduate and professional student financial aid, the referendum states.

“Services may have to be cut in the future if no additional sources of revenue are generated but costs continue to increase,” he said.

UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab acknowledged that the UC Berkeley assembly is experiencing financial difficulties as well.

“There’s definitely a need for more funding,” she said. “We work really hard to fundraise from other sources.”

Navab did not discount the possibility that the ASUC would entertain similar self-imposed fee hikes, since funding of ASUC-sponsored student and graduate programs has not increased to meet demand. However, graduate students would not be able to vote for a fee hike specific to them because the assembly’s money is tied to the ASUC, which serves undergraduates, she said.

Weismeyer is not concerned that the possible voluntary increase in graduate student fees will discourage public officials from finding long-term solutions to diminishing state funding for the UC.

“If anything, it would allow us to advocate more strongly for long-term solutions and funding for UCLA and the UC system,” he said.