Tuesday, August 21

UCLA’s fees low among UCs


ASUCLA's proposed increase still keeps costs below others in system

As other University of California campuses see their student
union yearly fees of hundreds of dollars go up even more, the
Associated Students of UCLA is considering increasing its annual
$7.50 fee, which would still be among the lowest in the system.

The differences among association fees throughout the UC system
lies in large construction projects and the ability to generate
non-fee revenue.

ASUCLA’s proposed fee increase ““ named SAFE for its
relevance to students, activities, facilities and employees ““
is meant to help finance updates to campus restaurants, increases
to student programming and raises in student-worker wages.
UCLA’s current student association fee could see an increase
to $12 a year starting in 2006-2007, and would increase by $12 each
year afterward until 2009-2010.

The fee increase would help maintain food facilities and would
not be used to finance large-scale construction projects.

“We’re very resistant to a fee,” said Jerry
Mann, director of student support services and the student union
for ASUCLA. “Our philosophy all along has been to keep the
fee as low as possible.”

The price of expansion at some other UCs is high, especially at
campuses expecting rapidly increasing student populations such as
UC Riverside, UC Irvine and UC San Diego.

Currently, students at UC Riverside pay $60 a year in student
association fees, but after their new student union is opened in
about three years, students will have to pay another $270 a year
for the building, said Todd Wingate, interim director of the
student association at UC Riverside.

Student association fees have consistently been much higher for
students at other UCs partly because student associations across
the UC system are structured differently.

Even before these construction projects, UCLA has had lower
student fees than other UCs in part because many revenue generators
like textbook sales and stores remain under the control of ASUCLA
““ a separate entity ““ while comparable operations are
controlled by the university administration at newer UCs, said
Lance MacLean, the acting director of student government at UC
Irvine.

Starting in 2008, UC Irvine students will pay about $150 a
quarter ““ up from $70.50 a quarter ““ for costs of the
student union building, Maclean said. Students at UC Irvine also
have to pay for other capital projects, including the completed
Anteater Recreation Center, which costs students $85 a quarter.

Student associations at older universities, including UCLA and
UC Berkeley, were “grandfathered in” and allowed to
maintain control over textbook sales and other retail operations,
MacLean said.

In spite of these construction projects, student association
fees usually remain constant for many years in the UC system. The
fee charged by ASUCLA has stayed at $7.50 per year since 1989, with
the exception of an emergency $51 per year for five years to pay
for seismic retrofitting.

Fees usually remain the same for several years because the UCs
have constantly growing student populations, said Gary Ratcliff,
director of UC San Diego’s student association.

“What’s nice about having a growing campus
population is that campuses that are at a steady rate increase fees
every three to four years,” he said.

If a fee increase passes among students, UCLA would still have
one of the lowest student association fees in the UC system because
of construction projects at other UCs.

UC San Diego students pay $112.50 a year to their student
association. But because of a referendum passed in 2003 by the
students, an additional $117 a year will be assessed starting in
fall 2007 after major expansions to their student centers are
complete.

UCLA already has many of the things that students at other UCs
are paying to construct, like a student union and recreation
centers.

“We’re pretty much a constrained campus in terms of
our size,” Mann said. “We’re at our density
limits.”

For many student associations, student support is vital to
maintain non-retail services like meeting rooms and study
spaces.

While many student associations have the choice of getting more
revenue from retail and food sales, it is necessary to have some
revenue generated from student fees in order to have services like
meeting rooms and computer labs available to students, Ratcliff
said.

“If there’s too much pressure to generate non-fee
revenue, you get a student union that looks like a mall and
that’s not what a student union is about,” Ratcliff
said.

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