Campus Beat Reporter
The Associated Students Senate Finance and Business Committee revealed last Wednesday at senate that a software error led to the University of California, Santa Barbara administration failing to collect 96 cents per student in student fees.
The missing fees, which amount to approximately $16,000, now account for a hole in a budget already formed and finalized at the close of the 2015-2016 academic year.
“The first decision we can make is to do nothing and just not collect the fee,” said Finance and Business Committee Chair Reilly Hobson. “The second decision would be to meet with university officials and then have them administer the fee to the student body. The only thing is that we’d have to pay the university for that service.”
Students pay fees at the beginning of each quarter, collected by administration software. A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez confirmed to The Bottom Line that administrators told her an error in the software led to the miscalculation of total funds to be collected per student by 96 cents.
The amount senate would owe for the back collection of the fee was not known at the time of the meeting. Hobson, an off-campus senator, assured fellow senators that the missing $16,000 would not affect salaries of any individuals employed by Associated Students, only effecting the supply line item in the administration’s operating budget.
“Basically, if we did nothing and that $16,000 that was already in the budget from last year, [A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez] would take it out of administration’s budget,” said Hobson, regarding the possible solution she presented, “It wouldn’t affect any student’s money because it would be absorbed by A.S. Administration. If we got the $16,000, it would go to A.S. unallocated and it would just fit the budget that we already have.”
Senators took turns expressing their outrage.
“First off, it makes me angry because these are student fees and these are student taxes,” said Off-Campus Senator Cole Marting in response to the administrative error. “Second of all, this isn’t our say. It’s the university telling us what to do. It should be the senate right here who votes on the system, but as of right now that’s not what’s happening. I don’t know why it’s not working that way because we are the representation.”
Off-Campus Senator Batsheva Stoll asked the question that many senators echoed.
“If they’re the ones that messed up,” said Stoll, “then why are we paying for their mistake? Perhaps we should sit down with them and discuss the option of not paying them for this.”
The third solution suggested, in which several senators recommended adding the 96 cents to winter quarter’s tuition fees, only complicates matters in some senators’ eyes. With students graduating at the end of fall quarter or transferring at the beginning of winter, Hobson highlighted that it would be “exceedingly difficult” to apply fair and appropriate charges to those who were in attendance in fall.
A.S. salaries have their own lock-in and would remain unaffected. Hobson said that Finance and Business Committee has been aware for several weeks now.
Without enough information on the matter, senators tabled the issue for ongoing discussion, preparing questions for Marquez at next week’s meeting, who is in the process of discussing possible solutions with administration.