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Students charged $197,060

Campuses inadequately promote fee, waiver

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 14:11

Students at Contra Costa, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos colleges have been forced to pay a $5 student activity fee that the Governing Board passed as optional.

The approximate total revenue collected from the district-wide fee for spring semester 2012, according to district calculations, is $197,060 — $39,960 at CCC, $46,610 at LMC in Pittsburg and $110,490 at DVC in Pleasant Hill.

The three are in the Contra Costa Community College District.

Effective last spring, the optional student activity fee was implemented to collect funds for student government groups at the three colleges. Students have the option of completing a student activity fee waiver form and turning it into their respective admissions offices, but must do it within the first two weeks of the semester.

However, inadequate promotion across the district led to most students being unaware of the fee and the two-week opt out option for spring and fall 2012.

Because of this lack of early semester promotion, nearly every student in the district who took spring 2012 classes was forced to pay the $5 fee or they would not be allowed to enroll for fall 2012 courses.

The district’s adoption budget for fiscal year 2012-13, which began July 1, set the beginning balance of the student organization fund at $597,910.

All revenue from the student activity fee, in addition to other income avenues intended for student government use, goes into the student organization fund, according to district documents provided by Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services John al-Amin.

Total revenue for the year is listed at being $298,000 with total expenses standing at $114,200 — just $4,000 less than what DVC took in from the activity fee for just one semester, leaving the student organization fund ending balance at $781,710.

The district student organization fund took in more revenue than it is expected to spend for this year. The activity fee alone produced more funds in one semester (spring 2012) than the three combined ASUs are expected to spend for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

ASUs propose activity fee

“I had my reservations (about implementing the fee),” Governing Board President Tomi Van de Brooke said. “When this was proposed I felt that it was not the board, essentially, proposing it. It was coming through the student (leaders), so I supported it.”

As a member of the districtwide group of student government leaders who proposed the activity fee to the Governing Board, former ASU president Rodney Wilson said he originally voted against it. However, he was outvoted, and the proposal was taken to the board.

The fee was approved by the board May 25, 2011.

Van de Brooke said in order to approve such a proposal the student trustees are not required to hold a vote among the student bodies at their respective campuses.

DVC’s student government also receives funds by selling an Associated Students of DVC (ASDVC) sticker. In the minutes from the ASDVC Oct. 4, 2011 meeting, the group expected the sticker to bring in $99,000 for spring 2012 — a $22,123 reduction in sticker revenue from the previous semester.

“We’ve been losing money from the sticker sales,” DVC Inter-Club Council President Lan Bui said, referring to reasons why the ASDVC supported the activity fee.

Student governments receive a small percentage allotment from bookstore sales revenue respective to each college.

LMC Associated Student (LMCAS) senators also have the option to receive stipends for meeting certain requirements. According to the LMCAS Bylaws Section VII, Article I, stipends for the president, vice president and vice president for finance can be up to $1,000 per year. For all other senators the amount is $800.

District Board Policy 3003 states that student organization funds are used to pay stipends.

At issue — who’s responsible?

CCC ASU leaders and Interim Dean of Students Vicki Ferguson both agree that the college failed to properly promote the implementation of the fee and fee waiver.

Yet LMC and DVC Associated Student organizations attest to beginning promotion in fall 2011. However, students on each campus remain ill-informed, or not informed at all, of the fee and its accompanying waiver.

During spring 2012, all DVC and LMC students were assessed the $5 fee.

DVC student Shamil Sharma said he did not know much about the fee or the waiver.

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