Campus Learning Assistance Services is turning to students to approve a $16.16 fee to alleviate many of the projected shortfalls from budget cuts.
CLAS is an on-campus tutoring and study assistance service that currently sees visits from about half of UCSB’s undergraduate population. If the measure is approved, undergraduates will be charged $16.16 per quarter, with $12.00 directly going to CLAS, $4.04 returning to aid and $0.12 covering administrative services. Approval of the lock-in measure in next week’s spring election would raise the per-quarter fee that students pay for CLAS’s services to $30.16.
Lupe Garcia, assistant dean of Student Academic Support Services, said this fee is necessary in order for CLAS to maintain the services it offers the student body.
“We are doing creative things to meet demands, and we are using funds in creative ways,” Garcia said. “After next year there will have to be large program changes from about 600 [tutoring] programs down to 250.”
Garcia said placing a lock-in fee on the ballot offers a chance for students to maintain the service and help it thrive.
“We have another year to get by on savings if we keep it tight,” Garcia said. “But after next year there will be drastic changes, and we wanted to let students know what was happening, and involving students in the process.”
CLAS has been able to maintain their services without significant downgrades despite massive budget cuts due to some very specific accounting, Garcia said. CLAS currently receives $14 per student, per quarter from lock-in fees.
According to Garcia, CLAS plans to continue the practice of careful bookkeeping in order to allocate student fees wisely and gradually.
“We didn’t spend last year’s referendum, we decided to grow thoughtfully,” Garcia said. “We had two quarters of savings, that’s what we’ve been living off of, and because of that savings students haven’t felt [the budget cuts]. This year we had focus groups, we didn’t come into the fee referendum without thought. We asked students if we should just roll with [the cuts], and students said that they wouldn’t want to compromise CLAS.”
Garcia said the volume of students who come through the department’s doors is a testament to CLAS’s success. She noted, however, that she is worried about CLAS’s continued ability to make a positive impact on students if budget cuts continue and the referendum is not passed.
“I think about how lives have been changed for the positive [through CLAS], and I wouldn’t want that to change,” Garcia said. “The students don’t have to come back and say goodbye, but they do, and they thank us … and that reminds me that it is all about the students.”
A minimum voter turnout of 20 percent is required for the election to be considered valid. If there is a 20 percent voter turnout, two thirds of those who vote must be in support of the measure. If turnout is 28.28 percent or higher for measures voted on by undergraduates only, 50 percent plus one voter approval is needed for the initiative to pass.
Additionally, the fee will be subject to cost of living adjustment — after five years, the rate of inflation or deflation will be calculated and applied to the fee cumulatively.
Voting begins April 19 at 8 a.m. on GOLD or at survey.ucsb.edu/elections/ and ends April 22 at 4 p.m.