With campus elections just a quarter away, UCSB organization members are toting around clipboards in the hopes of garnering enough signatures to have their lock-in fees on the ballot.
Each group — Counseling Services, Career Services, the Green Campus Program’s “net zero” initiative, Campus Learning Assistance Services and Transportation and Parking Services — must collect roughly 3,000 student signatures by Feb. 2 to have their lock-in fee proposals voted on come mid-April. In light of the financial burden plaguing the university, many departments are seeking to raise lock-in fees significantly from previous years.
One department restructuring this year’s ballot proposal due to underfunding is Counseling and Career Services, which split its proposal into separate entities — with Career Services asking for $5.55 per quarter and Counseling Services requesting $10.85 per quarter. In addition, TPS will ask for a $5 increase to its current $3.33 quarterly fee to supply night & weekend parking permits to students.
“The budget cuts have dealt a huge blow to lots of campus departments within Student Affairs,” Associated Students Internal Vice President Chris Wendle said. “As is, they have very limited funding. Without the extra fees, their services will be virtually nonexistent, or, at the very least, become severely compromised.”
Given the recently approved tuition increase, Wendle said students may be hesitant to approve measures that would pull money out of their pockets.
“The lock-in fees give students a chance to decide whether or not these services are valuable enough to pay for,” Wendle said. “It will be a tough decision. Students won’t want to fork out the extra money, but, at the same time, these services have merit.”
Lupe Garcia, CLAS director, said that while the organization’s $16 increase may prove difficult for students, it is a choice they must make to keep receiving the level of help the department provides. CLAS currently receives $6 quarterly from every student.
“Right now, we are working off of reserves,” Garcia said. “We can’t persist at the same level for long. “The purpose of the referendum is to inform students of the possibility of reduced services and give them a chance to pitch in to preserve them.”
The proposed initiative from the Green Campus Program is designed to kick start the “net zero” retrofit project. According to the GCP Web site, the campaign would get 36 campus buildings “off of the electrical grid,” possibly saving the university $1 million per year.
According to team advisor Clay Carlson, A.S. External Vice President for Local Affairs, representatives from the GCP are meeting with the administration to draft a contract that would direct the money saved by the campaign back into student services.
“Our aim is to benefit all parties,” Carlson said. “If a binding contract ensuring the money gets back to the students isn’t established, we won’t pursue the project.”
Mike Hewitt, GCP team manager, said the proposal’s appearance on the ballot hinges on negotiation with the university.
“The benefits aren’t solely environmental,” Hewitt said. “The instantaneous economic benefits of the plan cater to a huge campus audience.”