New Student Union fee referendum: bad timing


Runner Staff

  Associated Students, Inc. presented the idea for a new Student Union and aquatics center for the CSU Bakersfield student body on Jan. 29.

  However, the referendum is not ideal at this time, nor is it the best use of the students money. These are luxuries rather than necessities. 

  The idea consists of an expansion to the Student Union that will be two stories tall with: a ballroom, study rooms, and office space. An additional aquatics center is set to include a recreational pool, as well as lap lanes, cabanas, and locker rooms. 

  The funding for these projects will come from a Student Fee Referendum, which means students will vote on Feb. 21 to decide if they want to pay the fee to have the project made.

  The price of the referendum is a very crucial piece of information in students deciding if they want to approve the referendum, yet it was so blatantly missing from the reveal presented by ASI.

  If the referendum is approved, students will pay $60 the first year, with an additional $40 every year until it caps at $180. This fee will remain at $180 every year to help keep the maintenance of the facilities. 

  Potential expansion of the Student Union is ideal as our student body expands. However the expansion created by the Student Union is greatly exaggerated.

  One main argument for the ballroom is to use it for freshman orientation which currently is held in the Icardo Center.

  Second argument is for more hangout places where students can eat their lunch, hang out, stream videos, or study in between classes.

  The pool will ideally be used by the students as they please. But since the preferred swimming season is summer, will the pool be open to students who are not enrolled in summer classes? 

  If it is open to students year round, how often will the student body want to use it? How many students will swim during the winter?

  Students don’t choose CSUB because they are looking for a luxurious university-they come to CSUB because they want an affordable quality education. 

  An increase in fees to fund luxury facilities is not what students come to CSUB for. 

  While we can expect that student fees will increase regardless of whether the referendum is approved or not, why not invest it in the actual education of CSUB?

  Students constantly hear professors complain that they have too many students and too many classes, why not invest that money in hiring more professors and building more office spaces for them?

  Finally, the timing of this referendum is presented during an inopportune moment. 

  The CSU system is undergoing a significant cut to its funding, which will without a doubt increase student tuition fees significantly, and now they want to add an increase in student fees to fund luxury facilities.

  Voter turnout was poor at last year’s ASI elections, as only 17 percent of the student population voted.  ASI should have paired this vote with its elections to maximize voter turnout.

  An expansion to the Student Union is necessary, but not to the extent to which it is being presented by ASI. 

  It needs to be made simpler and not so luxurious. This will also help students see the project completed sooner, and not be such a large increase in student fees.