Tuesday, January 22

Proposed student fee increase clarified

The original headline contained information that was unclear and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.

The Bruin Diversity Initiative’s impact on student fees has become a source of confusion during this week’s undergraduate student government elections.

The Bruin Diversity Initiative proposes to increase quarterly student fees by $9.93 to raise several hundred thousand dollars to support six campus organizations, five student group funds and one student government office. Most of the organizations provide retention, access, community service and cultural programs.

If passed, the initiative would increase campus-based student fees – excluding the unit-based instructional enhancement fees – by about 6 percent. Campus-based fees are defined as fees that apply only to UCLA’s campus, not the entire University of California system, according to the UC policy on compulsory campus fees.

The initiative would increase student fees that fund student government and ongoing student-run programs or services by about 18 percent, said Roy Champawat, director of the UCLA Student Union, who oversees student government accounting.

The confusion over the fee increase started when Molly Katz, a fourth-year history student who is internal chair of the Community Programs Office Student Association and a backer of the Bruin Diversity Initiative, filed a complaint with the USAC Election Board about a Bruins United campaign flyer that stated the initiative would increase student fees by 20 percent.

Katz claimed in the complaint that the information was false and violated the UCLA Student Conduct Code. Katz said she and other initiative supporters initially used all campus-based fees and the University of California-wide student services fee to calculate the initiative as a 2 percent fee increase.

Bruins United slate members, however, said they focused on the fees students pay to the Undergraduate Students Association for their flyers.

“When we say student fees we are talking about the fees students voted on,” said Ken Myers, chair of Bruins United. “That’s where we got the 20 percent. I completely understand the distinction, it just depends on the fees you are looking at.”

Katz said the goal of the initiative’s supporters was not to cast Bruins United in a negative light.

“We just thought the 20 percent increase in student fees (on their flyers) was not really fair to us,” she said.

USAC Election Board chair Dana Pede said there is nothing in the election code concerning the accuracy of materials distributed by campaigns. To add a regulation regarding misinformation to election code, she said there would need to be further conversation to ensure the code didn’t infringe upon freedom of speech.

Pede said the board plans to put up the reasonings from Bruins United and supporters of the Bruin Diversity Initiative on its website.

“At this point, we just want to make sure students have access to all of the information,” she said.

Katz said supporters of the initiative plan to send a statement to the Election Board to help inform students and ease the confusion.

“We want to make sure that, regardless of how students vote, they make an informed decision,” she said.

Champawat said the confusion about the fees is understandable because of their complicated nature.

“You can easily become confused looking at (the list of fees),” Champawat said. “It’s not formatted for storytelling.”

Clarification: The Election Board planned to post the reasonings of Bruins United and supporters of the Bruin Diversity Initiative on its website.

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  • smh

    smh at Bruins United.

  • StudentsFirst

    Understandable. Then again the initiative people are making an effort in making the students understand where the fees would go, what will they do and what they are. And Bruin United, they have the right data but twisting words around. Bruins untied should be making the students understand.