Students, faculty petition against sustainability, technology fee, ‘It is the student’s money’

Students+and+faculty+have+opposed+the+implementation+of+the+sustainability+and+technology+fee%2C+which+would+be+66%25+allocated+towards+technology+and+34%25+allocated+towards+sustainability.

Brittany Cruz Fejeran

Students and faculty have opposed the implementation of the sustainability and technology fee, which would be 66% allocated towards technology and 34% allocated towards sustainability.

by Eugenie Budnik , Senior Staff Writer

Following the forums for the proposed sustainability and technology fee, San Diego State professors and students have created a petition against new student fees’ implementation. 

“We are meant to be a university for education meant for future livelihood. Yet, we are funding things that are so insignificant,” A.S. Green Love Commissioner Olivia Humphrey said. “And now they’re asking students for that money – some of the lowest income adults are college students.”

The petition was created by biology professor Scott Kelley and anthropology professor Savanna Schuermann with the help of several students.

The petition cites several different financial resources SDSU and the California State University system holds including over $28 million in surplus parking fees and fines at the end of 2018, $45 million dollars for the naming rights for the new Mission Valley stadium, and $300,000 for a rebranding plan.

The university released a statement that said the university’s budget is publically posted.

“Additionally, on Friday, March 11, 2022, the Campus Fee Advisory Committee (CFAC) approved an advisory recommendation to President de la Torre to oppose the proposed Accelerating Tech & Sustainability fee for implementation in Fall 2022. President de la Torre supported this recommendation to not implement the proposed fee, and this news was shared with CFAC at its April 8, 2022 meeting. Therefore, the Accelerating Tech & Sustainability fee will not be implemented,” the university said in a statement. 

In 2019, an audit found the CSU system had a $1.5 billion surplus partially from student tuition put away as part of the system’s reserves.

“When the state asked them why they needed this money they [the CSU] said that it was a part of their ‘reserves.’ It is not their money. It is the student’s money. It is the parent’s money, and it’s the taxpayers money,” Kelley said.

The technology and sustainability fee proposal is not the first time that the university has demanded student fees against the wishes and needs of students.

When the student health fee was increased from $85 to $150 per student in 2010, the Calpulli Center had to close its urgent care area due to staffing shortages even amidst the increase. Instead, the funding was used towards hiring more management positions

“We are tired of all these fees and fees, and also these alternative consultations which happen almost every single year,” A.S. Imperial Valley president Carlos Fitch said.

Fitch said he is tired of the proposal of new student fees, and he is tired of the lack of communication and effort for accessibility between administration and students regarding the fees especially when it comes to the I.V. campus. 

Fitch, who is a student member of the Campus Fee Advisory Committee (CFAC), asked for the presentation materials to be translated into Spanish, but said his requests ultimately were not carried out. 

“At the Imperial Valley campus, around 93% of the students come from a Spanish background. There are some words we may not understand in English. It seems to me that the bare minimum would be to give our students the accessibility in their language to understand how their dollars will be used,” Fitch said.

The CFAC also used and modified a letter of sustainable demands written by SDSU Climate Strike, an sustainability student organization, without the SDSU Climate Strike’s permission within their presentations.

“They [CFAC] basically twisted the words of what our entire approach was. Which basically was that the university needs to pay for these sustainability initiatives, not students. But they bounced it back onto the students,” Humphrey said. “I, along with multiple other people, brought that to their attention and asked them to remove it. They still didn’t. They kept it there.”

International Security and Conflict Resolution fourth year Gener Abon is a member of the SDSU strategic planning team for activities 15 through 17. Strategic planning activities 15 through 17 all deal with the campus’s sustainable initiatives.

Abon said when it comes to both sustainability and fees, university administration does not listen to student voices.

“Most staff told us that we don’t have the money to fund staff positions relating to sustainability. When it came to sources of funding, I remember telling the staff exactly that we do not want student fees to fund sustainability initiatives. That has to come from higher administration,” Abon said. 

The group of professors and students who created the petition hope to spread the message and  make real change regarding funding within the university. 

“All of this money could have been spent better. The students deserve better. They deserve a university that decides to stand up for them, and they’re just not getting that,” Humphrey said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the university’s statement which was provided to us on Wednesday, April 20.