ASI: No student vote on rec center?
September 24, 2009 9:50 PM
The Coalition Against the Recreation and Wellness Center marched on campus Sept. 16, protesting the Student Fee Advisory Committee's proposal for a new Recreation and Wellness Center.
"We started organizing because we realized there were very few outlets for us to express ourselves and make a positive change on campus," said Sam Brown-Vasquez, the organizer for CARWC.
The committee is composed of Associated Students, Inc. elected officials, Vice President of Student Affairs Penny Saffold and other campus administrators and staff. It holds public meetings Wednesdays at noon in the Delmy Rodriguez Room on the fourth floor of the Student Services building.
The committee voted unanimously on Aug. 26 to use an "alternative consultation method" for approving the proposed recreation center. The consulting method will be a petition to decide whether a recreation center will be built. It is an alternative to the student body voting to approve this project.
Brown-Vasquez said the way the Student Fee Advisory Committee decided to pick an "alternative consultation method" is a violation of two provisions in the California State University Student Fee Policy and Miscellaneous Course Fee Delegation of Authority, also known as Executive Order 1034.
The provisions state that a student fee referendum will be conducted before adjusting or establishing campus mandatory fees, but SF State President Robert A. Corrigan may waive the referendum, and if a referendum is not conducted he must demonstrate the reasons why the alternative consultation methods selected will be more effective in complying with the policy.
Brown-Vasquez said President Corrigan has not explained to the public why a petition is preferred over a referendum.
"President Corrigan did formally approve on 8/26/09 the Student Fee Advisory Committee recommendation for an alternative consultation process," wrote Director of University Communications Ellen Griffin in an e-mail. "The president concurred with the committee's analysis and reasons for recommending an alternative consultation method."
The biggest concern of the CARWC is that the building and maintaining of these facilities will increase SF State students' fees and will cost roughly $93 million, according to Brown-Vasquez. The new recreation center wouldn't be available until 2014 at the earliest, and students don't get to vote on whether they want this center to be built and their fees to be raised.
Brown-Vasquez, 21, an environmental studies and Spanish senior at State, said that ASI should be supporting students in advocating for those classes that have been cut instead of diverting money to something that is not relevant to the school's needs at the moment.
"The problem is not just the Recreation and Wellness Center," Brown-Vasquez said.
"It's the way things are done on campus. It's the bureaucracy."
ASI President Natalie Franklin, who was elected to represent her fellow students, was not stirred when asked how their concerns voiced in the protest on Wednesday, Sep. 16 would influence the planning of the recreation center.
"It does not affect our vision," said Franklin.
Brown-Vasquez said that the politics on campus are reflecting the politics in the state and nation, and that students have a chance of making change in the larger society by making change on their own campus.
Brian Gallagher, 26, an alumnus who graduated last spring as a political science major and a member of the coalition, is concerned about the proposed recreation center as a taxpayer in California.
"I believe public institutions should follow the rule of law," Gallagher said. "There's nothing more dangerous than an informed individual."
"A lot of classes are being canceled and people aren't graduating on time, but they want to build something that will increase our fees," said 22-year-old political science major Jessica Alvarez.
"Those extra fees could be a meal for me," she said.
According to the student recreation and wellness center's website, student fees will be implemented gradually starting this year at $35 per semester, increasing to $160 per semester starting 2014. In addition to the $160, there will be an incremental increase of $3 every semester after 2015.
Aaron Buchbinder, a graduate student studying social work, is an activist supporting the coalition.
"I think we need to spark a dialogue and make it clear to the campus community that this is a controversial issue," Buchbinder said. "Most students should be aware of how their money is spent by student government."
"It's a budget justice issue. It's a student power and democracy issue. It's a gentrification issue. I don't want to see this school turn into an unaffordable country club."
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