With Associated Students spring elections approaching, the MultiCultural Center is hoping to gain student support for a proposed $3 increase to its lock-in fee.
Currently, around 17,000 undergraduates pay $2.50 per quarter – $0.75 through an A.S. lock-in fee and $1.75 through a supplementary campuswide lock-in fee – totaling $7.50 per student per year for the center. That fee would rise to $5.50 per student per quarter if the initiative passes. MCC Associate Director Viviana Marsano said the MCC, which was introduced to campus in 1988, is a venue that promotes cultural understanding.
From students in summer sessions, the MCC receives $0.50 through the A.S. lock-in and $1 through the campuswide lock-in. If the increase in lock-in fees is passed, students will pay $3.50 overall for the summer.
Two-thirds of voters need to approve the measure during the A.S. election, held April 24-27, for it to pass.
“We decided to try to get an increase at the end of last quarter, so the deadline for the campuswide elections was gone,” Marsano said. “That’s why we went for the [A.S. elections].”
Before the A.S. lock-in fee was implemented in 1998, the MCC charged $10 an hour for events in the theater that required use of the sound booth, Marsano said. With the financial support of students, it is currently able to supply a free venue.
“The philosophy of the MCC is to try to provide all of this for free,” Marsano said.
The request for a fee increase was prompted by University budget cuts, Marsano said. The MCC budget has been cut by approximately 35 percent in the last three years, she said.
“Because of budget cuts we need more funding, but we don’t want to start charging [again],” Marsano said.
Students must also vote on whether to return 25 percent or 33 percent of the lock-in fee increase to financial aid when they vote for the measure. If students vote to return 33 percent, Marsano said, $2.51 would go to the MCC.
Marsano said the increased fee is not as expensive as it sounds.
“If you think about it, $5.50, it’s barely like a latte and a croissant per quarter,” Marsano said.
The MCC’s resources are free to any student group and the center hosts over 100 events per quarter, of which students only pay for six, with a ticket price of $5, Marsano said.
She said the MCC also provides space and funding for cultural events on campus, such as culture weeks, and other student-group sponsored events like “Take Back the Night.” The center hosts movies every Wednesday with free coffee and cookies after 5 p.m. and during finals week.
Marsano said the MCC also hires between 10-15 students who are paid $7 hourly with a raise for each year of work. She said students advance their understanding about issues such as discrimination, oppression, stereotypes and gender while working in the MCC.
The MCC would use the additional funds from the lock-in fee to pay for the facilities like the kitchen and lounge, and a portion of the students’ wages.
“We are hoping we can pay them a little more,” Marsano said.
Jack Fritz, a fourth-year film studies major and lead dancer for the Hindi Film Dance team, said the MCC allows the team to use the facilities for free, as long as they clean up after themselves.
“We practice [at the MCC] every night from 10 p.m. to midnight,” Fritz said.
Hindi Film Dance uses the center once a month and is currently fundraising for a dance competition in New York.
Marsano said the MCC does not take any portion of the proceeds raised by student groups.
“The MCC is one of the few venues on campus with free space for students,” she said.
The MCC also offers a study space for students and is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until 5 p.m. on Friday.