The University Student Union at Stanislaus State has proposed a student tuition fee referendum to renovate the current Union Building on campus. If passed, student fees will increase by $209 every semester starting Fall 2019 to help cover the $52 million needed for the project.
USU needs student votes to progress with the Union Building renovation project. Current Stan State students will have a chance to vote in favor or against the fee increase on Thursday and Friday.
If passed the tuition fee increase won’t come into effect until Fall 2019, but students currently enrolled in the Fall 2015 semesters will be the ones voting on the fee increase.
According to a public notice posted by the Student Fee Advisory Committee, the proposal seeks to enhance and remodel the current University Union Building to brand it as the center of student life on campus.
“The fee increased requested by the University Student Union will help shape the programs, services and facilities – the essential building blocks to a fulfilling and meaningful college experience,” according to the Student Fee Advisory Committee’s public notice.
CSUS freshman Crystal Cabrera views the new building as beneficial for future upcoming students.
“It won't really be that beneficial for us but for future students they’ll have a chance to be more involved on campus and be able to enjoy themselves,” Cabrera said.
For junior Madison Toel the tuition fee increase wouldn't be much of an issue to her if it were for something more useful.
“In the scheme of things, $209 isn’t that much difference, however it seems to me like we don’t really need these things, a sleeping room is just not really necessary and a waste of space,” Toel said.
The total cost of the Union Building renovation would cost roughly $52 million and will take 30 years after the facility opens to be completely paid off. USU has reported to have $3.2 million in reserves, and $2.2 million will be used for the expansion project.
If students vote to not pass the proposed fee increase, USU has a planned to use a portion of their reserve to renovate and fix the current outdated Union Building.
“If the referendum to increase the fee for a new University Student Union does not pass, the University Student Union will be required to use a significant portion of the available reserves, a hefty portion of student dollars, to retrofit and repair a building that is already outdated and inadequate to our current student population,” according to the Student Fee Advisory Committee’s public notice.
Senior Angel Parra believes that USU should use their own budget to fix their building without the help of Stan State students.
“Its honestly not needed, it’s a fairly large project that is not needed on this campus,” Parra said. “If there’s already some funding, why do they need to ask for more from the students? It’s just not right in my opinion.”
If Stan State students vote to pass the new fee increase, the new Union Building would include many accommodations that will be beneficial for students on campus. Some of the proposed enhancements to the Union Building include a sleeping room, a meditation room, a new ballroom, a bookstore inside the union and plans for a new auditorium on campus to be used for campus events.
For junior Jill Hamilton, her education doesn’t revolve around the current Union Building and doubts the new building would be any different.
“I understand the fee wants to make the Student Union the center of student life, for me personally it’s not the center of my student life, and I don’t see it changing,” Hamilton said. “I come to school for my classes and to get an education, I’ve never stepped foot in the Union. I really can’t see myself paying an additional $200 on top of all my other fees for something I don’t ever use.”
For Students for Quality Education’s President Raina Chelise and SQE’s Vice-President Araceli Hernandez the tuition raise will be an issue affecting all current and future students.
“Students should not have to pay more to get a better educational experience,” Chelise said. “ A raise in tuition will affect more than one student, it will affect all students now and in the future.”
SQE believes everyone deserves a chance at affordable higher education, and an increase in student fees would make it difficult for students to afford going to school.
“The main issue with this is that the money is coming from student pockets, who are already paying enough as it is,” Hernandez said.
There will be voting stations located at both Turlock and Stockton campus on Thursday and Friday. The polling station at the Stockton campus will be located in Acacia Lobby from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for both days. The polling station in the Turlock campus will be located in the University’s Event Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for both days.
This story first published in The Signal, the Stanislaus State student newspaper, available online at csusignal.com.