Student Fees Investigation: CSUB leads with highest Student Association fee in the CSU system

Teresa Balmori Perez, Assistant News Editor

Graphic by Haydee Barahona / The Runner

California State University, Bakersfield has the highest Student Association fee out of all 23 California State Universities. This fee not only funds clubs and organizations and Associated Student Inc. scholarships, but also athletics. ASI is responsible for handling those expenses.  

Each student pays a $419 Student Assocation fee, 66% of which goes toward athletics. Meanwhile, other campuses charge between $54 to $368. 

According to Ilaria Pesco, executive director of ASI, ASI is budgeted $3.96 million for the 2022-2023 academic year. Of the $3.96 million student association budget for the 2022-2023 academic year, ASI kept $542,400. 

“All the events that you see that ASI puts on every Runner Hour … We’re spending money there to get back to our students,” ASI President Carson Vollmer said. 

The fee also covers athletics and Athletics DIV-I. 

Athletics-DIV 1 received the most funding on the ASI budget: $2.92 million. According to Pesco, this funds student athletes’ scholarships that are required by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.  

A separate athletics category of the budget, which is $458,600, funds scholarships for students on the spirit squad, their travel costs for competitions, and uniforms, Pesco said. It also funds spirit programming. 

“The goal for these student fees is that everything that’s being charged goes back to students in one way or the other, so that it goes to benefit students in some sort of way,” said Pesco.   

“All the events that you see that ASI puts on every Runner Hour, every Wednesday from twelve to one. We’re spending money there to get back to our students,” Carson Vollmer, the president of ASI, said.  

Pesco also stated that ASI uses $109,500 to support student activities, such as clubs and organizations.  

According to the ASI Club Funding Policy document, in order for a club or organization to apply for funding, they first have to be in good standing with the Office of Student Involvement. The OSI will then verify the club’s or organization’s charted status before the form is passed to the ASI Finance committee.  

Graphic by Haydee Barahona / The Runner

Only club Presidents or treasurers are allowed to submit the ASI Funding Application. There is a maximum allotment of $3,000 per year for clubs and organizations. 

“The funds being used from ASI must also fund an event free and open to all students on campus,” wrote Julisa Chavana, ASI vice president of finance, in an email. 

According to Pesco, ASI works with clubs and organizations to help ensure that their events are a success.

For example, ASI helps fund the Food Pantry and Edible Garden.  

Pesco explained that the Food Pantry spends $500 on food while the Edible Garden spends $500 on seeds and fertilizers.  

ASI also supports the Chicken Enthusiasts Club. According to Pesco, ASI was able to give the Chicken Enthusiast Club $3,000 for their club with approval from the finance committee. 

Simran Sidhu, president of the BIPOC for Mental Health Club, has also applied for funding from the ASI finance committee.  

While BIPOC for Mental Health is a new club and has only applied for funding once, Sidhu said their experience was positive. 

“Everyone on ASI was very kind and open to hearing about our event and why we wanted to put it on. They asked some really good questions about it and got back to us very quickly regarding if we got approved or not,” said Sidhu.  

Sidhu said the BIPOC for Mental Health Club was approved for funding. 

ASI also funds the Antelope Valley campus by giving them $69,900.  

According to Pesco, ASI gives funds to AV in order for them to do their own programming. CSUB AV Student Life Advancement also receives funding from ASI for its clubs.  

Because ASI is a nonprofit organization, they have certain operating expenses.  

With their portion of the budget, ASI pays for staff to help manage the organization, said Pesco. This includes money for the executive director, coordinator, and student assistants. The total amount of employee costs is around $243,000. 

ASI also pays for the board members’ scholarships, such as the executive and chief justice, said Pesco. Each semester they all receive $125, which is paid through financial aid. The total for their six executives adds up to $48,264, and $850 for the Chief Justice.  

“They are not employees of the organizations. So, therefore, the only compensation they receive is tuition and fees. That is consistent across the CSU that all of the executive officers across the CSU are compensated with tuition fees,” Pesco said.  

According to Pesco, CSUB students who wish to increase the Student Association fee would have to go to the ASI board and petition why they want to increase the fee. Then, ASI will consider putting a referendum before the students to vote on. 

The referendum will then have to go to the CSUB President and then to the Chancellor’s Office. In order for a referendum to be approved, the president and the Chancellor’s Office both have to agree on it or else it will not be passed.