Contrary to previous reports, students voted down the Intercollegiate Athletic Scholarships Fee in the recent election.
After reviewing the results, the Campus Elections Commission discovered a clerical error in its calculation of the fee’s vote. Although the CEC originally announced the fee’s reaffirmation with 51.3 percent voting “no,” a recount determined that 60.2 voted against the initiative. Reaffirmations fail if 60 percent plus one vote “no.” The initiative, which lost by 11 votes, was the only ballot measure that did not pass in the election.
The fee, which sought $9 per quarter — excluding summer — from students, would have funded existing NCAA athletic scholarships for UCSB student athletes.
Director of Athletics Mark Massari said the repercussions of the student vote are severe.
“It’s real simple — we can’t give half a million dollars in scholarships anymore,” Massari said. “And the kids who already have it, we don’t know at this point. We might have to take it away.”
According to CEC Dean of Students Designee Suzanne Perkin, the original results were invalid because the commission had mistakenly factored in the percentage of abstentions — students who voted neither “yes” nor “no” — into the final result. Perkin attributed the procedural error to the pressure of releasing the results in a timely manner.
Although the reaffirmation lost by less than a dozen votes, Perkin said these results are more common than they sound.
“It’s so unfortunate for them to lose the fee by such a small margin, but the rules are the rules,” she said. “There have been some fees in the past that have won and lost by fewer votes. It’s not unusual, but it is a small amount to lose by.”
The referendum, which has been in place for the past 12 years, was approved on three occasions in 1998, 2002 and 2006. Massari said almost 300 student athletes — out of about 500 athletes competing for UCSB — benefit from the grant aid.
Additionally, Massari said UCSB trails behind other UCs in athletics funding. According to Massari, UC Davis students pay $280 in lock-in fees for student athletic scholarships.
“Every Division 1 program gets scholarships,” he said. “We’re way under the NCAA scholarship allotment. People wonder why we can’t be competitive — they should look at our funding sources.”
Massari also said the department does not intend to present the measure as a new fee on next year’s elections ballot.
“It was the students who voted this — 60 percent said ‘no,’” Massari said. “This is the only one they voted away, they approved everything else. The campus voted on what’s important to them. Giving grant aid to scholarships is not.”
Courtney Marshall, a second-year sociology major, said she voted against the fee because student athletes often receive grants and scholarships from other sources.
“There’s already a lot of money out there for student athletes,” Marshall said. “The money [from lock-in fees] should go to Student Affairs or CLAS. It should go to the general public, as opposed targeting a select group of students. There are so many athletic scholarships. … If they put out our money, then it should go to everyone.”
However, Massari noted that athletes do not receive all the benefits students may think, such as free tutoring — the department has to invest $50,000 a year in CLAS tutoring.