The decision to increase the USU fee is not only our decision to make, but it is also our responsibility to make as well. It was entrusted upon us by every student who came before us and was willing to pay the price so that we could enjoy and benefit from the USU we have today. We, the students of California State University, Long Beach, have inherited the USU for as long as we are here. As such, we have inherited the responsibility for its future also.
From the original USU (which was the Soroptomist House) to the opening of our current USU in 1972 to the additions and enclosures that followed in 1995, students have been voting on that which would impact and benefit current and future students for decades to come. As a result of the high volume of student responses to student surveys conducted in 2011 and 2014 regarding the USU, a referendum was drafted for the students to decide. Now that choice, that decision, that vote is ours to make for the current students, as well as the future students to come.
My hope is that we, as a student body, make an informed decision and not one based upon half-truths and emotion – a decision that looks at costs versus rewards while taking responsibility into consideration.
Some people have questioned whether this is our decision to ethically make. My answer is yes, it is.
There is precedent, as I have already shared. Concerning the USU, students have been setting the financial state of students to come for four decades now. In exchange, the students promised and delivered a world-class student union.
Furthermore, there will be a significant percentage of current students who will benefit from certain phases of the USU project as they are completed. The average amount of time it takes a student to graduate here at CSULB is five to six years. That means that there is a good chance that our current freshmen class may see all three phases of the project completed. Additionally, our sophomore and junior classes could see one or two of these phases completed and benefit from them as well.
Lastly, the ethics of the process have been deemed just and legal by the State of California.
A lot of misinformation has been going around about the USU campaign and the ASI. Allow me to set the record straight.
- The ASI does not fund the USU campaign. It is funded by the USU.
- The USU campaign team has emphasized exhaustedly that the project would be completed in phases and that the increases would be imposed in phases and not at the end of completion as some have said.
- “The core principle of the democratic process” is that we allow the people to vote of their own free will.
- The claim that “the USU Board of Trustees has failed to ensure a voting process that is just” is completely false and quite defamatory in my opinion. The University’s Student Fee Advisory Committee, of which I am a member, is overseeing the online referendum vote, and I can assure everyone that a fair and just process is in place.
- Student fees have not risen by 318 percent, as previously cited. Although student tuition and campus-based fees combined may have increased by 318 percent since 2002, campus-based fees here at CSULB, of which the Student Union Fee is one, have only increased by roughly 200 percent since the 2006 – 2007 academic year. This is due in large part to dramatic increases in the Student Excellence Fee during that period, according to the CSU website. Yet they remain among the lowest across the CSU system.
- There was not an increase in the Student Excellence Fee in the spring of 2014. It is not even within ASI’s power to enact this fee.
I will not argue the ambitiousness of this project. But ambition and forward-thinking are what we here at “The Beach” are known for. This university is continuously and consistently being recognized nationally and around the globe for staying ahead of the curve and providing our students with the best programs and services possible. We are an institution built on pride and tradition, and we have inherited the responsibility for carrying and building upon that tradition.
I will not argue that the timing for the referendum is not the best for students. But it is the state of the rapidly deteriorating infrastructure that has made this issue a timely matter. The longer we delay, the more it will ultimately cost our students in the future affecting the level of programs and services we provide our students.
We are already paying for an increase that we had no say in. Yet we benefit on a daily basis from the decisions that were made by those whom came before us. I have yet to hear anyone against the referendum raise that point.
In closing, I would like to say that our students deserve to know the truth regarding both sides of the argument so that they can make an informed decision. I am not asking anyone to vote one way or the other. I am only asking that they vote and that their vote be based upon the facts and what they think is in the best interests of our current and future students.
2013 Student Excellence Fee Detail; http://web.csulb.edu/about/budgetcentral/funddetail2.htm
2015 Student Excellence Fee Cost: http://www.calstate.edu/budget/student-fees/fee-rates/longbeach-history.shtml
CSULB 10 Year Tuition and Fee History: http://www.calstate.edu/budget/student-fees/fee-rates/longbeach-history.shtml