Decision delayed again over student organizing fee

For the second consecutive week, Santa Monica College's Associated Students Board of Directors has postponed voting upon the student organizing fee of $1.50.

Having run an online ballot to determine whether or not to establish a permanent student organizing fee of $1.50 per term for the purpose of providing funds to organize students on issues of importance, the board remains divided as to whether this fee will be implemented.

Sixty two percent of voters who responded to the online poll (initiated in May of this year) approved of the fee increase. Should the AS sway with the collective majority, the fee will go to fund such programs as the Student Leadership Academy and CALPIRG.

Max Morgan, the 2008-09 SMC Chemistry Club president and former member of the Constitution Committee and Great Appeals Committee, said, "I think that they rushed it. Nobody really looked at what $76,000 would do to the AS budget."

Current AS president, Tiffany Inabu, believes that the only reason this year's board is considering a fee withdrawal is dissimilarity between student's thoughts and the proceedings of the Board. She said that although this topic needs to be voted on, "we had to postpone it till next week. We will discuss it then."

Responding to these recent events, previous AS president Cameron Henton said that during his time in office CALPIRG was fully funded for an entire year while they achieved all their goals and objectives, and they had the largest kick off meetings.

"They were doing, in terms of a first year chapter, way better than chapters that have been established for a while," said Henton, adding that although the CalPIRG "pilot" year went smoothly, it is always difficult to maintain continuity with programs like this when the AS Board rotates yearly.

When CALPIRG's full funding from the AS Board was removed, they decided it would be better to have their own separate fee to fund themselves. "We told them no," said Henton. "We couldn't have something specific for just one organization. We instead transformed it into a student-organizing fee that could fund a vast array of things."

Vince Slevin, the New Voters Project Coordinator for CALPIRG and the AS director of Budget Management said that, "the fee was implemented to fund CALPIRG. The cost of having a CALPIRG Chapter here at SMC is $72,000."

"They ratified the vote and added it to the AS Fee instead of making it separate. Some people this year want to rescind the fee, but without the Student Organizing Fee, which is our entire funding, I don't see there being a CALPIRG chapter," added Slevin.

In response to public feeling that CALPIRG isn't worth the money, Henton said, "My argument [is that} you just approved $21,000 for study abroad students, and $65-$70 thousand last year. That's…20 students that get 70,000. Whereas CALPIRG benefits everyone here on campus."

Henton continued, "The intention is not to fund them forever from the AS money. The idea is to get them started, then they could go to the system like the other schools."



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