CSU East Bay Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) student representatives voiced opposition to a possible fee increase at last month’s meeting of the California State Students Association (CSSA).
The CSSA, a statewide student advocacy organization which unifies participating ASI groups from campuses across the California State University (CSU) system, is currently pursuing the addition of a two dollar fee for every student as part of a plan to increase its funding and presence in the state.
Currently, CSSA membership is voluntary and dues are collected from each ASI member group on an annual basis. CSSA Executive Director Miles Jason Nevin said this model has kept the organization extremely small at three permanent staff members, despite representing over 400,000 students.
“In addition to trying to carry out our mission and to trying to achieve victory for our students,” said Nevin, “we’re constantly having to deal with these internal issues and discuss our own validity to our own members, and it’s just very challenging.”
If successful, the fee would allow the CSSA to hire more staff and expand operations in Long Beach and Sacramento.
While CSUEB has yet to take an official stand on the matter, the issue, according to CSUEB ASI President Christopher Prado, is how the plan calls for the fee to be imposed by the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees without student input.
Prado said any possible fee increases should be voted on by referendum in each campus, giving each student body a voice in the process. Instead, the CSSA’s current strategy bypasses the students and goes directly to the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees.
“There has been no strong effort made on behalf of the California State Student Association to have student referendum’s on each of the 23 CSU campuses,” Prado said in an email. “It seems quite hypocritical that the CSSA, which is an organization that lobbies to decrease fees on students [...] is advancing efforts to impose a student fee on students.”
Mark Laluan, the ASI vice president of External Affairs at CSUEB, echoed Prado’s concerns, adding fears that the CSSA would begin to act more independently if it no longer relied on voluntary membership dues from each ASI member.
“If the CSSA gets its’ funding directly from the student body than there is no guarantee that the CSSA board would comprise of ASI members,” said Laluan. “Representatives might be directly taken from each campus and then CSSA would become this large multi campus organization.”
Nevin disagrees with these fears, stating there are no plans to “change the board representation model.”
“I’ve heard these arguments before, and frankly, these concerns aren’t in play here,” said Nevin.
When asked if any formal CSUEB opposition would change or alter the direction of current plans, Nevin said that while he understands the student’s concerns, the CSSA would not allow a minority view to change the plans that were previously passed unanimously.
“We are an organization of 23 Associated Students from the CSU,” said Nevin. “If one campus comes out that says our student plan is not the way to go, I don’t think that necessitates us abandoning that plan. All it necessitates is that we continue to have conversations at a statewide level about the appropriate ways to move forward.”
“The CSSA at its best can be a powerful force for activism and advocacy on behalf of CSU student issues and its mere existence allows for that potentially to happen,” conceded Prado, “but while this could be perceived as an effort to develop unity and increase the coordination of student activity it shouldn’t undercut the opportunity for the voice of approximately 430,000 students to be heard in the process.”
A resolution was created within the CSUEB ASI during the last month calling for a withdrawal from CSSA; it was presented and discussed at the CSSA conference last weekend though no concrete decisions were made.
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 at 6:28 pm.