Optional Fees, Weren't so Optional

 Santa Monica College Fees Assessment Page. 

Santa Monica College Fees Assessment Page. 

Santa Monica College is working to make opting out of fees for Associated Students membership and ID more transparent, through regulations from the Student Affairs committee on campus.

The two fees, $19.50 for the A.S. membership and $13 for the ID ‘stickers’, have always been optional for students to pay. However, the process to get the fees waived involves having to go to the admissions office on campus and filling out paperwork. The proposed change will now mark the two fees as optional when paying online and will allow any student to simply check it off if they’d prefer not to pay it.

Beatriz Magallon, the current head of Student Affairs for the past two years and a counselor in the Welcome Center, commented in response to the process behind updating regulations and the optional fees in particular.

“As we go through the year and start having our first meetings. We talk about which regulations have to be changed based on the years because they should be reviewed every five years or if the state has made any changes to Title V or the [Education] code,” Magallon said. “Then we have to change our regulations because it directly impacts. [This] was one that hadn’t been looked at and so when we got to it, we started learning a lot by just looking at all the language.”

This proposal was made in the Spring 2017 semester before being finalized on Sept. 20. The change is planned to immediately be active, which means that students should be able to decide whether they would like to pay the fees through SMC's online portal, Corsair Connect.

According to the Administrative Regulations, the last update to the changes regarding optional fees was in 2010.

These regulations affect students in general, and so the work that is done in these committees do look for different perspectives.

“There’s a lot of work being done by faculty members outside of the classroom. That’s just part of what we do to stay involved and have faculty input as well as from Associated Students to have their input,” said Magallon. “There’s a lot of power that you have if you get involved. If students get involved and are really active in their committees. Student voice is so key to all of this.”

The A.S. membership currently provides free rides through the Big Blue Bus, $15 worth of printing in the Cayton Center, free admission to A.S.-sponsored events and other benefits to students at SMC.

Students frequently use the membership to get free blue books and Scantrons from the Office of Student Life. Students such as Kristen Diep, a Biology major at SMC, uses the benefits, but did not realize it was optional.

“When I paid for my tuition online, it was already included so when I got my ID, they already put it [the fees] on it. I didn’t really know I had the option until I was actually going to purchase it and then I learned I had already purchased it,” said Diep. “I don’t think it was clarified. I’m going to still pay it, but I wish they advertise what the benefits of it are as I didn’t really know until halfway through school.”

Such regulations such as making these optional fees able to be opted out online are one of the many regulations made this semester. Another recent one was a change allowing students receiving financial aid to be able to purchase cheaper parking.