Students prefer ASI fee relief support basic needs program

The second of two student community planning sessions regarding ASI fall fee relief options, held on Sept. 24, revealed students favor funneling $2 million of funds into basic needs programs.

After this discussion, a poll was initiated to survey student opinions on the three options. Out of about 30 attendees, 52% preferred option one, which would allocate the savings into ASI and university basic needs programs, 3% preferred option two, to keep the savings in ASI’s savings accounts to ensure the organization’s future financial health, 13% preferred option 3, a partial reimbursement of the ASI facilities and operations fees and 32% preferred a hybrid between options one and two.

This presents a shift from student opinion in the last planning session, specifically an increase in support for the basic needs program allocation option and a decrease in support for the reimbursement option.

Because option one got the majority vote, student Mercedes Gonzalez wanted to clarify some of its main drawbacks.

Lucy Yu, ASI president, said that should the ASI Board of Directors adopt option one, the question of eligibility for needs-based programs will be further discussed. Further conversations would also include determining the allocation of funds to programs such as the Career Center’s Clothes Closet or The Poly Pantry.

“The benefit to option one is that we get to listen to you all and pick and choose what exactly we would want to put the money toward,” Yu said.

ASI vice president Manshaan Singh explained that although they are steering away from making any biased statements about the options, option one would mean that not every student would qualify for the needs-based resources, like the emergency grant

“I see option one, in regards to another emergency fund, as the best option because it will benefit the student body’s individuals that need it the most and the help will be released to the student body in the quickest timeline,” said fourth-year business administration student Isaiah Mota.

While option one was heavily favored, option three saw a 23% drop in support from the first meeting to the second. This decline in support for the reimbursement option may be attributed to the student’s knowledge of the concrete dollar amount that they would receive in a fee refund.

Acknowledging that any estimate is subject to change, Singh did state that the partial refund of the $403.97 fall facilities and operations fee could be around $75 to $85. During the event, students unaffiliated with ASI speculated that with administrative costs, that amount may be lowered to $79

“The biggest frustration of mine is just not being able to get the experience I paid for,” said first-year food and science student Rebeca Amezcua. “I understand that they do provide so much for us, but specifically for this semester and the next our money disappeared. And for what? A $79 refund for the $460 plus that we gave is not fair at all, especially to students who are struggling. To be completely honest, I just don’t like the fact that we are paying so much for not a lot and they still aren’t prioritizing what we want. After all, we are the ones who gave them their jobs essentially.”

Yu reiterated that ASI will not vote on any option until they hear from more students.

Meeting participant Katie Banda wondered if it would be possible for spring fees to be reduced before the next semester begins, so that there are no additional administration costs to recalculate.

“That is exactly what we’re trying to do right now in terms of how soon can we know what spring looks like for ASI operation so we can get a head start on that,” Singh said. “The trouble is that we, one, have to adhere to what the Chancellor’s Office states and two, we also have to adhere to what LA County Public Health states. So those two things combined can take a while to get a good picture as to what ASI will look like in the spring.”

On Oct. 8, the board of directors will be meeting to discuss these options and a vote could take place. The Board of Directors meeting minutes and agenda can be found here. 

(Feature image by Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post)

 

Corrections were made to this article Oct. 4 at 12 p.m.

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