By Alex Graf
More than two years after an ill-fated attempt to increase a student fee that funds student activities, a new effort is afoot to put the fee increase before students.
Mitch Avila, the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, is floating the idea of a student referendum on raising the Instructionally Related Activities fee, or IRA, from the current $5 a semester to $50 a semester. Avila said the fee could help fund new equipment and programs ranging from athletics and music and dance performances, to student publications.
“We’re absolutely starving our arts and media programs,” Avila said. “We need video cameras, computers, printers… music needs to buy instruments, theater students need to go to theater festivals and those kinds of things.”
Two years ago, discussions around the fee centered around raising it to $90. However, former CSUDH President Willie Hagan said in an April 2016 memo that “a more extensive alternative consultation process or a full student referendum,” was needed.
Avila believes a referendum on the issue is the best and most likely path forward and hopes to work with Associated Students, Inc. and President Thomas Parham to hold one during the spring 2019 semester.
“At Dominguez Hills, the fee is $5,” Avila said. “That’s by far the lowest fee in the CSU system. It generates maybe a quarter-million dollars per year, whereas I estimate the needs of my college for IRA revenue probably is around $1.4 million. That equates to about $50 per student per semester.”
IRA fees at California State University campuses range from CSUDH’s $5, which is among to lowest, to California State University, Bakersfield’s $162. IRA fees at California State University, Long Beach and California State University, Fullerton are $25 and $36 respectively.
In order to be placed before the students, an application needs to be submitted to the ASI Student Fee Advisory Committee.
“From there, the committee could recommend President Parham raise the fee or call for a student referendum,” Rasheedah Shakoor, executive director of Associated Students, Inc. said “President Parham has the final say on all things related to student fees. Ultimately, the best way to do this is to go to referendum.”
Parham could also reject the proposal after the ASI passes it to him, like Hagan did two years ago.
Avila, who was involved in that IRA increase proposal, acknowledged the difficulty of convincing students to pay a higher fee but said students who receive Pell Grants wouldn’t be responsible for any additional expenses and that “the tradeoff is pretty clear.”