Campus, News

Beach Pride Referendum hangs in balance

Students athletes can rest knowing their scholarship dollars are safe — for now — after the Student Fee Advisory Committee delayed a move to reallocate the Beach Pride Referendum indefinitely in a 9-0 vote Friday.

Associated Students Inc. President Joe Nino introduced the move to the committee. The original Beach Pride Referendum, passed in 2000 by a majority student vote, approved a $21 fee per semester to fund the college’s athletics scholarship programs, spirit programs and facilities.

Last semester, ASI Senate passed a resolution that would review the referendum and bring it back to a student vote. The intent was to give students more autonomy in choosing where the funds would go.

The reason for the postponement was due to the referendum having a direct impact on athletic programs. According to Senate Vice President Sofia Musman, funding for student athlete scholarships would be cut if the fee was reallocated.

“Right now, ASI gives to athletics $445,000 in scholarships,” Musman said. “The funding cut would be in student [athlete] scholarships.”

Athletics is already running on a strict budget. According to ASI Executive Director Richard Haller’s presentation, cuts to scholarships would negatively impact the diversity of student athletes. Scholarships are already 32 percent below the amount that National Collegiate Athletic Association allows. To protect this money, the department would be burdened to decide whether to dial back on training or strength and conditioning services.

During Associated Students’ Spring 2016 term, the Board of Directors moved to cut $25,000 from Athletics Scholarships, reducing it from $300,000 to $275,000. This funding was to be moved to the Cultural Resources center before Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley overturned the resolution on the grounds that relocation of student funds must be put before the student body in accordance with The California State University Chancellor’s Executive order 1102, Education Code Section 89711.

Long Beach Athletic Director, Andy Fee, explained that while he is grateful for money from the Beach Pride Referendum and wants to honor the investment student government has made in athletics, cuts would cause drawbacks for athletics programs at the university.

“We don’t have a lot of fat, we’re very lean,” Fee said. “If we were cutting, we’d be cutting into muscle, so to speak.” He went on to explain the vast majority of student athletes don’t receive full scholarships.

Although Beach Pride having a significant impact on athletics, removing the $21 fee would open up funding opportunities toward other facilities, according to Haller’s presentation.

If the referendum passed, Associated Students would regain control of scholarship allocation to student athletes, which was the original intent of the reevaluation resolution.

Also, the organization would be able to fund increases in minimum wage without having to cut other programs. The new money reallocations could potentially expand other programs such as the sustainable living center, Project Rebound and the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center. Nevertheless, Nino said taking this funding from athletics is not a good alternative to balancing the minimum wage increase.

“I can’t justify helping a group of students by harming a group of students,” Nino said before introducing the tabling motion. “I don’t feel confident moving forward…taking money away from athletics which will directly or indirectly affect student athletes [in terms of] scholarships or student experience.”

Senior softball player Rachel Loera told the student senate last semester about her and other athletes’ reliance on the scholarships. In her public comment, she emphasized the misconception of most athletes receiving full rides.

“I am not one on a full scholarship,” Loera said. “I had the opportunity to come to Long Beach State even though it was going to be financially hard on my family. I have to take out student loans…juggle softball, school, work and studying and get minimal sleep.”

Wayne Stickney, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Major Gifts and Resource Acquisition, helped campaign for the referendum in 2000. He told the Daily 49er earlier this year that the fees helped athletics and the spirit team compete with other schools.

“If it wasn’t for the Beach Pride Referendum…I don’t think we would have achieved as much success in the ensuing years that we’ve had,” Stickney said.

The date that the Student Fee Advisory Committee will continue talks on the referendum has yet to be determined.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Daily 49er newsletter