The Associated Students of University of California Santa Barbara recently took a stand on the decision of the UC Office of the President to include student-initiated fees in their assessment of campus expenditures.
The new 1.6 percent tax will help fund UCOP’s central services and programs and is expected to cost UCSB Student Affairs an additional $700,000. In a demonstration of disapproval, AS has affirmed their opposition by not including the tax in the new student-initiated fees for the 2012 Spring General Election currently taking place.
In a letter composed by Associated Students to UCOP, the members openly expressed their disapproval and explained the consequences of the new tax should it be fully implemented.
“Student-initiated fees have not historically contributed to or received any funding from UCOP,” AS wrote. “The fees have always remained on campus and have been administered by the campus or Associated Students.”
A key concern over the tax involves how lock-in fees would be affected as each lock-in fee clearly states how the fee is used and divided and the new tax would require a reworking of those statistics.
“Students vote on the lock-in fees every two years during the campus elections,” AS wrote. “The language of the fees states very clearly how the money will be used. When students vote yes on keeping fees or introducing new fees, they are essentially signing a contract saying they agree to pay a certain amount of money more per year and of that amount a majority will be spent on the program or service.”
AS said that the tax would affect these numbers and necessitate the students being informed that their money is no longer being used in the way they initially voted on.
“By allocating the money from the lock-in fees towards paying our debt to the university, we will be breaching a contract made with the students,” AS wrote. “As the representative body of the students, we simply cannot do that in good faith.”
In an attempt to avoid the $200,874 tax burden placed by the UC Office of the President on the UCSB campus based on AS expenditures in the 2009-2010 fiscal school year, AS is asking to be allocated credit by the campus for “hidden expenditures.”
“On an annual basis, Associated Students provides the campus with funds to the physical maintenance of the campus and- it provides direct service to the campus,” the letter stated.
AS included its contributions to the Facilities Management to maintain the Bike paths on campus, $87,400 each year, and its $303,800 contribution to environmental projects via the Coastal Fund fees.
“Without these contributions,” AS wrote, “there would either be no funding for these services or the campus would have to increase expenditures at different control points to fill the gap.”
The letter concluded with an urge from AS towards the Chancellor to reconsider having AS pay money towards campus debt and for the UC Office of the President to not “consider student-initiated fees in their assessment of campus wide expenditures.”