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Impetuous taxation

$5 activity fee enacted without student input

accent.advocate.com

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 14:11

EdToon

Joel Ode / the advocate

It is election time once again, and as the country’s electorate prepares to cast its votes on Nov. 6, students at Contra Costa, Los Medanos and Diablo Valley colleges are dealing with their own political injustice.

Student government leaders from around the district made a proposal to the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board, which it approved on May 25, 2011. The proposal was for the implementation of a $5 student activity fee to be assessed to every student each semester on an optional basis.

Board members insist the reason they voted in favor of approving the optional fee is because the students were emphatically behind it. But the question must be asked — which students?
One would assume that thousands of students would remember supporting this fee. But they do not remember because they were not a part of the process.

Election Day is Tuesday and tax measures are on the ballot to be voted on by the people they affect. However, student government leaders in our district decided to tax the students they claim to represent without so much as saying excuse me.

One arguments for the fee coming from student senators is, “It’s only $5.” But the reality is it’s each student’s $5.

The most disappointing element of this fiasco is that the Governing Board, thus far, has taken a hands-off approach to overseeing the implementation of this policy or even telling students of it.

It is mind-boggling that Governing Board trustees would approve a policy which collectively takes hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of students.

Budget cuts have riddled the California community college system resulting in reductions in courses and student services and increasing tuition costs. However, the student governments at the three district colleges get to play with $197,060 of the students’ money — and that’s just from the spring semester 2012.

Reasons for implementing the charge were because bookstore allotments, which are used to fund the Associated Student Unions, were down. So is the number of students attending community colleges.

Is this a coincidence? We think not. At this point it does not become OK to just take the money.

 Students seem to have no problem receiving the email forbidding them from enrolling in upcoming semester’s courses unless the $5 is paid. Yet there are students who have attended college in the district for as long as three years who have no idea what the student activity fee is, much less any idea they can opt out of it.

 

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