Students reject IRA fee referendum

Junior Tiana Perez has participated in every election since she started at Fresno State. She voted against the IRA fee referendum because she thought it was unfair that only $20 would go to academics.
Juan Villa / The Collegian

With 65 percent of students voting no on the IRA fee referendum, the issue will be passed along to the campus fee advisory committee for review. They will meet on Monday in a closed meeting to discuss the fee and pass along their recommendation to University President John D. Welty, who will make the final decision. Of the 1,371 students who voted in this year’s election, 1,189 voted on the IRA.

The new ASI President will be Mackee M. Mason, a senior mass communication and journalism major. With 474 votes, Mason will step into office on June 1. Mason said he plans to continue his grassroots approach while in office, by reaching out to students and getting them more involved in ASI. “I want to talk about the issues with them,” Mason said. As for his position on the IRA, he plans to talk to both University President John D. Welty and the students to find out why they voted no. Mason hopes that students will work with him, and asks students to “please hold me accountable.”

The turnout for this year’s Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) election far exceeded the previous year, with 1,371 students coming to the polls.

“The IRA was definitely a driver for the voter turnout,” said ASI Elections Commissioner Erik Cuadros.

The Instructionally Related Activity (IRA) fee referendum, which students ultimately voted against, would have increased student fees by $70 per semester. Sports would get $50 of the money and the remaining $20 would fund field trips, club activities and other student-related activities on campus.

Cuadros said that the four presidential candidates and numerous senator positions up for election also gave a lot of different students reason to vote.

Senior Mackee Mason was elected next year’s ASI president.

Other election results included Lauren Johnson for Vice President of Finance, Jessica Sweeten for Senator of the College of Agriculture Sciences & Technology, Paul Herrera for Senator of the College of Arts & Humanities, Graham Wahlberg for Senator of the College of Engineering, Jamie Ruddy for Senator of the College of Science & Mathematics and Anton Bortolussi for Senator of the College of Social Sciences.

Seven senators at-large were elected: Beatriz Campuzano, Sandra Flores, Jorge Hernandez, Sarait Martinez, Craig Parks, Eduardo Rodriguez and Ryan Welch.

As students stood in lines waiting to vote this year, many were surprised. At last year’s election, in which 494 students voted, there were almost no lines at the polls.

Second time voter Stephanie Obad, a sophomore agriculture communications major, and her friend were shocked to see a line in the University Student Union on the last day of voting. She said last year there was no line when she voted.

Although the line was a bit of an inconvenience, Obad said it was worth the wait.

“I think it’s good. It means that more people are voting and getting involved, I just didn’t expect a line,” Obad said.

Like many voters, friends’ names on the ballot were what brought Obad to the polls. She said she went to support them.

As for the IRA fee referendum, Obad was undecided. She admitted it would be nice to not have to pay more, but also saw the advantages to the athletics program if the referendum passed.

Other students were much more decided on their opinion of the referendum.

Becky Sievers, a senior civil engineering major, voted no on the IRA. Besides not participating in sporting activities, she does not want to see more fee increases.

“I don’t use the sports anyway, so getting in free to games doesn’t help me as it does other students,” Sievers said. “Besides, other fees are increasing, and it is just going to hurt even more.”

Kurtis Urien, a junior political science major, agreed that he was just not interested in increasing fees.

One student said he would have voted for the bill, if it were going to benefit women’s sports. Dalitso Ruwe, a sophomore psychology major said he is not willing to pay more to see funding for men’s sports increase.

“If it were in favor of the women’s teams, I would have definitely voted for it,” Ruwe said.

Maria Alcocer, a junior majoring in psychology, was one of the few voting “yes” on the IRA Thursday morning. She would like to see more variety of athletics on campus.

“I think it’s good,” Alcocer said. “We need more money for other sports.”

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