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Press Clipping: Trustee proposes student activities fee
This article from the Accent Advocate at Contra Costa College quotes ASGA's research on student activity fees at California community colleges.

Trustee proposes student activities fee
Five dollars per pupil asked to fund clubs
By Christian Urrutia, staff writer

Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 17:03

Amidst state and district eliminations of  programs, positions and payroll due to budgetary cutbacks, Contra Costa Community College District Student Trustee Brandon Amargo is proposing a Student Activities Fee of $5 at Contra Costa College to garner funding for the Associated Students Union for future semesters.

The ASU, along with workers from the Student Services Center, Amargo and ASU President Joseph Camacho sent a report containing the proposal to the Governing Board recently, in hopes of raising much needed money for activities on campus.

Camacho said that clubs, the ASU, campus events and other student outlets are not well funded by the college and would substantially benefit from additional revenue generated if the proposal were to pass.

Unlike the Faculty Senate and Classified Staff Senate constituencies, which are financed by the district, the ASU receives no source of funding aside from profits the Bookstore shares with it.

"So if the Bookstore, for example, drops in its overall profits, even less or no money goes to the students," Camacho said. "If the EOPS book grants were to be cut again, as they were last year, money from this (fee) would ensure that grants would still remain available."

Camacho also said that smaller events the college has held in the past were forcibly cut and future events would face hardship getting established when the events would be organized and eventually hosted.

Without added help or fundraising, booking sponsors for possible future events increases in difficulty.

"Hosting an event such as ‘Have Better Sex,' which is directed toward spreading sexual awareness, something we did in the previous semester, becomes distressing if the sponsor, Planned Parenthood, charges $150 in order to allow us to have the necessary materials and an educator (to the campus) to do the event if we don't have any money to do so," Camacho said.

"Opportunities for socially relevant functions and constructive seminars possess an enormous chance of happening if the fee is put into place here at the college."

A program on personal budget planning, along with another providing information regarding ways to identify the achievement gap in students, are just some of the things spoken among the ASU members as accessible events if more money is allocated into their yearly budget by the fee.

As a result of the potential passing of this fee, other resources, such as having a reserve finance account where there is no starting student government budget for the semester, or having enough money for basic office materials aside from providing the required funds for clubs to start and stay in existence, could be enacted as well.

Amargo said, "Each college has its own way of funding its student activities, and having an opt-out fee like the one we're proposing creates revenue for many student services that are currently lacking in funding."

After assessing a survey done by the American Student Government Association, the Student Trustee Advisory Council approved the proposal that has been brought up in past district meetings during previous semesters but now has significant leverage resulting from the governor's own current proposal of the state budget.

Amargo said the report was presented in Sacramento in addition to next month's planned district meeting, where the fee will be proposed.

"This (money) isn't going to be lost in the hands of the district. It is going to be used directly for the students, and can provide the essentials for scholarships, clubs, speech and debate, Jazzanova, and even supply health services," Amargo said.

In comparison to the sister colleges in the district, the proposal would stay at $5, whereas Diablo Valley College charges $8 for a similar fee and Los Medanos College charges $6.

Whether the fee will be mandatory for students to pay each semester  is still being discussed, although most who are proposing it would like to see it mandated. A definite refund process would be included, as long as it was asked for within the same semester; students would be given a chance to get their money back.

"Five dollars wouldn't come out to a lot and (would) certainly be useful for students who could get something out of it," criminal justice major Gabriela Garcia said.

American Student Government Association  

The American Student Government Association will provide all Student Government leaders and advisors nationwide with networking, research, and information resources and will teach them how to become more effective, ethical, and influential leaders on their campuses. ASGA also will promote the advancement of SGs, conduct research as the nation’s only “SG Think Tank,” and advocate the importance of having a vibrant, autonomous Student Government organization at every institution in America.

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