2016 AS Referenda Reform Proposal

A Bill for Responsible Oversight of Student Fees

The purpose of these new reforms is to curb the excessive growth of AS student fees, which has been increasing steadily over the last decade, increase responsibility and oversight of student fees through a thorough review of fee referenda, to give the voter more tools to gain a sense of understanding of the history of student fees over the years, to give the voter an understanding of where the proposed fees would go, and to make the process more transparent by placing documents in publicly accessible sites.

  • The Problem
    • The AS Strategic Plan gives Associated Students a road map for the future to address the issues of the student body. This plan is compiled by a Guiding Group who took the analysis from the undergrad survey and created a survey for AS participants. In addition to asking participants to weigh in on both priorities and ideas for actions AS could take to address the various issues over the next several years.
    • In the VISION 2020- AS Strategic Plan, ‘Tuition and Fees’ received the highest response from students from all academic years and AS participants. 83.1% of those surveyed would like AS to focus on this issue over the next five years.
      • 59% of those surveyed answered ‘AS is addressing this, but should expand our efforts’
      • Q4 SurveyQ6 Survey
    • Selected comments from the subsection titled ‘Internal AS Improvement Ideas’
      • “A strange thing about lock-ins is that they almost always pass, which can be good or bad. I feel that there is so much focus on the candidates and parties that people are not very educated on the ups and downs of the various initiatives being presented.”
      • “We need to make this super clear and let students know where their money is going! Possibly a link on the AS website–>fees and where they are going. Breakdown in a clear format the fees that undergrads/grads are paying.”
      • “I just can’t believe that so many exclusive and unnecessary lockins pass. I doubt enough of the student population votes on them.”
      • “Students should be more informed and have more access to information to decide whether they should reaffirm certain lock-ins or not.”
      • “not every bcc needs a lock-in but it seems like everyone gets the option to be placed on the ballot and it usually gets passed. we should stress to the student body what is actually important to get lock in fees overall because 2$ a quarter here and there for this and that BCC really can add up when there’s 10 new ones introduced to the ballot each year”
      • Student Comments
  • Goals of the Referendum Process
    • To ensure compliance with Campus and University policies
    • To foster the widest possible discussion and debate in an effort to create a well-informed voting population
    • To achieve the broadest possible consultation among both students and the appropriate campus units during all phases of planning and implementation of the fee.
  • Reform Objectives
    • To curb the excessive growth of AS student fees over the last decade.
    • To increase responsibility and oversight of student fees through a thorough review of lock-ins through the Referenda Oversight Committee, hereinafter referred to as ROC.
    • To give the voter more tools to gain a sense of understanding of the history of student fees over the years.
    • To give the voter an understanding of where the proposed fees would go.
    • To make applications for rollovers and referenda increases viewable to the public.
  • Objective: Student representation is required during the planning, election, implementation and oversight of a fee. Sponsors are required to establish and convene a student advisory board or committee that includes representation from student constituency groups and meets several times a year throughout the duration of the fee. At a minimum, the committee must include representatives from the ROC, and the ASUCSB Senate.
  • Proposed: An existing AS entity shall be the ROC, tasked to review the proposed lock-ins, and give impartial recommendations based on the current funding allocations of the applicant group, cost-of-living expenses, rate of tuition, and availability of existing AS funding. These are possible entities to be tasked with the responsibilities of the ROC:
    • AS Finance and Business Committee
    • AS Chief Financial Officer
    • AS Office of the Controller
  • The ROC may elect to provide either a pro or con statement to be included in the supplement and ballot, in the case there are no either pro or con statements elected.
  • Objective: To include an online application form on asfb.as.ucsb.edu for new and recurring lock-in applications
  • Proposed: A fee proposal is a working document that includes the complete text of a fee referendum, the ballot language, and the marketing plan and its budget. The sponsors must present their fee proposal to the ROC and also may be asked to share their fee proposal with units who may be affected by the fee and/or student groups for input. Fee proposals are accepted by March 1 for department-initiated referenda and by November 1 for student initiated referenda.
  • See Appendix for proposed Fee Proposal Form.
  • Fee Proposal Outline Form PDF
  • Objective: To achieve the broadest possible consultation among both students and the appropriate campus units during all phases of planning and implementation of the fee.
  • Proposed: A more detailed supplement for fee referenda that includes data on the fee’s history, past expenditures, and proposed expenditures. This data is to be compiled by the ROC, using the online form filled out by the sponsor and data provided on the online form and past AS budgets. See Appendix
  • A copy of the sponsor’s Annual Report is to be included in AS Election Supplements.
  • A link to the group’s past rollover request applications shall be provided.
  • Objective: To achieve the broadest possible consultation among both students and the appropriate campus units during all phases of planning and implementation of the fee. The proposed changes to the ballot aims to establish some background of the group requesting fees, and fee allocations.
  • Current Ballot: The current fee initiatives and reaffirmations page of not include clear instructions for how much students currently pay. Here is the current ballot format: Full Version in Appendix 
    • Current BallotNotice how unclear the current fees, and how much the proposed increase will bring up student fees.
    • The Pro and Con statements are rarely both filled out. Indicating, there is little to no opposition on increased fees.
  • Proposed Ballot: The proposed ballot aims to provide the voter clear data on the fee’s history, past expenditures, and proposed expenditures. This data is to be compiled by the ROC, based on the data provided on the online form and past AS budgets. 
  • The proposed ballot is to include: 
    • Indicate recent, defined as three years, fee referenda requests, including results, from the sponsor. 
    • Indicate recent, defined as three years, rollover requests, including results, from the sponsor.
    • A bar-graph of per quarter (excluding summer) fee allocations per student over the past three (3) academic years.
    • A bar-graph of per quarter (excluding summer) fee projections per student over three (3) academic years.
    • A pie-chart of the sponsor’s proposed expenditures.
  • Sample proposed ballot: Full Version in Appendix

Proposed Ballot

 

  • Objective: To give students a summary of how fee referenda were used over the past academic year, and to justify any increases in funding.
  • Proposed: Throughout the duration of the fee, the sponsors are expected to report annually on the use of fees at the close of each winter quarter.
    • Examples from Berkeley: See Appendix
    • Annual Reports are to include:
      • An executive summary of the sponsor group
      • Summary of per-student fees
      • Project updates, reports, and metrics
      • A summary of the fee referenda’s goal, and how the group has worked to meet these goals
    • A copy of the group’s Annual Report is to be included in AS Election Supplements.
    • Annual Reports are due September 1st.
    • Annual Reports are to be made available via a public-accessible page on the ROC website
  • Online Form
    • Objective: Currently, funds remaining in the account at the end of the fiscal year will go back to the Capital Project Reserve Account. The Executive Director shall submit to the Senate, the request, which shall approve the request as an action item.
      • The current form is in paper form and is administered by the AS Executive Director. Then, recommendations are sent to Senate as an action item.
      • The Senate does not have access to the form detailing the reason for why the applicant’s funds were not spent over the academic year.
        • With an electronic form, the Senate and the rest of the student body would be able to view applications for rollovers.
        • The Senate, the press, and the student body, can be knowledgable, and attain an institutional memory of unused AS fees, and excessive referenda reallocations.
    • Proposed: All Entities who wish to apply for remaining funds to rollover to the next fiscal year must fill out an application at through AS Finance and Business Committee.
      • The Executive Director shall submit to the Senate, the request as filled out through the on-line form, which shall approve the request as an action item.
      • Proposed online form: See Appendix
      • This online form, and its responses, shall be made available to the Senate, and be publicly viewable on the ROC’s website, and on election supplements. 

Rollover Request

Legislation

This is the first draft of the proposed legislation.

Comments + Questions

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