Controversial student activity fee under scrutiny

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Activity-Fees

The student activity fee, a source of controversy for 20 years, is made up of your money–$1.50 for every credit. The fee currently goes every year to the Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College, which allocates it to sports, The Broadside student newspaper, and clubs, according to Alicia Moore, dean of students at COCC.

“Historically, the fee was passed in 1994 for student health care and student activities,” Moore said in a meeting with student government on Jan. 7. “Healthcare became too expensive, so the fee reverted to just student activities.”

Every year, The Broadside and sports submit budgets to ASCOCC and receive budget funding. The Broadside gets more than 60 percent of its budget from this money, and sports receives a critical ten percent.

Critical for sports, because it provides the money for the sports program to give students field experience, according to Bill Douglass, director of sports and recreation at COCC.

“[The student activity fee] contributes generally around $20,000 a year to sports,” Douglass said. “That $20,000 is actually operating money, whereas most of our budget is fixed.”

The money allows the teams to compete in leagues and pays for equipment.

“The students would really be impacted if it wasn’t there,” Douglass said.

The criticality of the money to The Broadside and sports has caused the two programs to have to compete for funds in the past, Moore said.

“It’s actually caused factions in ASCOCC,” Moore said, “because you had huge supporters of club sports who wanted to give more money to club sports, and huge supporters of The Broadside who wanted to give more money to them.”

In spring 2013, a student fee task force was put together to scrutinize the allocation of all student fees, including late tuition fees and technology fees. Moore and Matt McCoy, vice president for administration, are both on this task force, as well as Ron Paradis, director of college relations, Kurt Killinger, director of legislative affairs with ASCOCC, and Gordon Price, director of student life.

“Over the years the concern has been that… personal bias could have influenced the decisions and allocation of funds,” Price said.

The task force is recommending the college change the system so that each year, sports and The Broadside get separate funds, and the rest go to ASCOCC, according to Moore. This will not only remove the effect of any biases in student government, but also allow the two programs to plan further ahead fiscally.

“Because it was distributed by student government,” said Paradis, “it caused a potential conflict and made it difficult to go from year to year with so much uncertainty.”

The task force also recommends that the college removed the credit cap from the fee. Currently, if a student is enrolled in more than 12 credits, the fee is no different than if they were enrolled in 12. This would generate “approximately $19,000 additional dollars based on 2012-13 enrollment,” according to the task force’s summary of recommendations.

The task force will present their recommendation to the College Affairs committee at a date to be determined, according to , and if it passes there, College Affairs will send it on to the COCC Board of Directors for the final decision.

The main purpose of the changes are to make the fee more equitable and understandable for students, whatever that looks like, according to Price.
“We’re going to be streamlining the process,” Price said. “It’s discussion time.”

 

Scott Greenstone
The Broadside

sgreenstone@cocc.edu

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