Aug 08, 2020

Budget cuts, student fee raises

Fresno State’s latest student fee increase will begin in the fall semester, and why the fee increase is necessary depends on who you ask. Just how much that increase is remains unknown.

The fee that is being escalated this time is the Instructional Related Activity fee. According to an email that was sent to Fresno State students the week of April 25 by Cindy Matson, vice president for Administration and Chief Financial Officer at Fresno State, the IRA fee increase “is necessary to support instructional support services for students.” It is also deemed necessary to “aid in the cost” of transitional services for Fresno State’s athletic teams as it makes the jump from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference in fall 2012.

However, on the “Proposed IRA fee increase FAQs” page on the Fresno State website, the IRA fee is described as being “among the campus fees that students pay to defray costs for such activities as concerts and music festivals, the marching band, conferences, judging contests, student travel and theatre, clubs and athletics.”

Nothing about “instructional support services” is mentioned.

Public administration major Mark Schmied is not happy with these latest increases.

“I know the budget situation is very difficult, but the changes are too extreme,” Schmeid said. “I hear they’re going to raise parking as well.”

Matson had addressed the Associated Students, Inc. Senate on April 6 to present three options available as to how the fee increase would be handled. One was off the table, and the remaining two were a $55 or a $70 per semester increase. Currently, all students pay a $62 per semester IRA fee. Ten dollars of each IRA fee would go to academics, Matson said, with the remainder going to athletic programs.

ASI President Pedro Ramirez maintained during the April 6 meeting that he was responsible for negotiating the $10 academic fee.

“Originally, it was all for athletics,” Ramirez said.

At the meeting, a straw poll was taken among the ASI Senate, and the $55 increase garnered the most approvals.

While fees are going up, the ASI budget will be going down. ASI Executive Vice President Selena Farnesi said ASI’s budget is comprised of student fee dollars. When a student applies to Fresno State and is accepted, there are tuition costs, and a portion of that money goes to ASI. That money is totaled up, giving ASI its budget for the year.

“We’re looking at a budget decrease because there may be less students coming to the campus, or an increase of students may be on fee waivers and they don’t pay that portion of the fee,” Farnesi said. “So ASI will probably have to suffer its own budget cuts as well as the whole entire university suffering budget cuts because of the budget of the state. Now on top of that, Fresno State is trying to increase its own IRA fee — not the tuition, but its own university fee, so students will essentially be paying more money, but ASI will be seeing less of it.”

Who decides which IRA increase will go into effect?

“They’re doing that by alternative consultation, so they’ve talked to several leadership groups and clubs and student organizations on campus,” Farnesi said. “They did a mass survey of all the students and then they held two big town hall meetings of sorts on the issue [April 29 and May 4] to gain student feedback, and once all that is done, the campus fee advisory committee will meet, and they will decide which option they’re going to go with as far as increasing the fee.”

Darlene Ortega is resigned to the fact that prices are going up.

“It’s inevitable,” the political science major said. “Because of corruption in government, the money does not get funded where it should.”

The campus fee advisory committee will meet Thursday, May 12.

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