The Lumberjack

Proposed union fee increase

Votes will be held in the University Center from April 17-19 to propose a fee increase that will help maintain student services and facilities. Photo by Nick Kemper.

The University Center is the thread that connects all students together.

Some may say that the University Center (UC) at Humboldt State is the invisible thread that brings students together from all backgrounds. The UC manages Center Arts and Center Activities. They oversee the Student Recreation Center, The Depot, the bookstore, Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center and the Kate Buchanan Room. They also facilitate concerts, guest speakers, special events and more. They even employ more than 100 students in their centers.

The UC is not part of the state budget, they’re an auxiliary that is here to serve the students. The UC has proposed a campus union fee increase to ultimately help maintain the student services they provide and repair their facilities.

Casey Park is the UC board of directors chair, as well as a senior wildlife conservation and management major.

“It’s the timing of the [$9.5 million deferred maintenance] report, coupled with this state minimum wage increase, coupled with our ability over the years to work with that study fee, and now with those things pushing us over. There’s not enough wiggle room for us to follow student need for our programs and activities,” Park said.

Park said the proposed fee the UC is looking for is separate from the main budget problems. Park said the UC has not implemented any fee increases since the original fees were instated.

“One of those is 30 years and the other is 15 years old. Now, our programs are at a breaking point where we are no longer going to be able to serve students well. We need that little boost to our fee because we want to serve student workers and make sure students have a safe space on campus after and before school,” Park said.

Dave Nakamura is the executive director of the University Center.

“The way students pay for their college education, some of it is directly for tuition, and that goes directly to supporting the campus such as faculty cost, administrative cost, facilities, all of that. Mandatory fees, students have to pay on the individual college campuses. Those fees are collected and used for different things, [such as the] health center,” Nakamura said.

From there, Nakamura said the money gets collected, then the loans get paid off. There are two loans: one for the student recreation building and the other for the University Center building.

“The leftover money comes back to the University Center. What happens with that money is that we incorporate it into our annual operating budget, which is approved by the University Center Board. What happens, in a nutshell, is that it gets spread between center arts, center activities and operations,” Nakamura said.

The proposed fee adjustment will increase to $35 a semester for the first year and then increase an additional $15 each year until year four.

“Partly the reason that finance came up with that concept was to smooth it out so that it doesn’t all hit at once. We also did financial projections on what this would look like moving forward on our budget. It mirrors the expense associated with the minimum wage increase,” Nakamura said. “If we start reducing those things, there’s less to do, there are fewer student jobs and all of these things start having an impact on whether its recruitment, retention, student employment, atmosphere… those are vital services.”

From April 17 until April 19 there will be a ballot where the student body can vote for associate student positions, university center positions and the fee proposal.

“If we achieved the fee increase with this proposal, we would love to maintain our programming and get some of those deferred maintenance taken care of, and keep ourselves flexible for our growing student needs, especially in the face of the budget,” Park said. “Every student who I’ve talked to about the basic details have always understood why this is a basic need for campus. When I say what we might lose, then it really hits home.”