Fee to Register Groups RescindedContact Lisa Humes-Schulz at [email protected]
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Student groups dodged a new $40 registration fee with the Office of Student Life after an agreement was reached with administrators Monday.
After a barrage of protests from student group members and ASUC officials, campus administrators opted not to implement the much-contested Student Group Recognition Fee during a meeting with students yesterday.
The $40 fee, which would have applied to the more than 800 student groups, was intended to cover the office's $16,000 budget deficit.
But the fee rankled ASUC executives, who said the fee was imposed without notice or collaboration with student group leaders.
"There was no justification," said ASUC President Misha Leybovich. "Free speech should not be charged."
After rallying support from more than 100 student groups, Leybovich and other student government leaders urged student groups to refuse to pay the fee and remain ASUC-sponsored only.
Although student groups were told the fee was non-negotiable, ASUC executives convinced the office not to implement the fee in a meeting yesterday with Vice Chancellor of Undergraduate Affairs Genaro Padilla.
"We did not want to charge the fee in the first place but did not have a choice given the budget cuts that we have realized between last year and the current year," said Marcia Gee Riley, director of Student Group Advising.
The Office of Student Life will work with the ASUC and Graduate Assembly to reach a permanent solution to avoid the need for fee implementation next year, Riley said.
Office of Student Life administrators had told student groups they would not be recognized by the office and would not receive support and development services if they did not pay the fee. They would also not be able to table on campus and reserve campus facilities for events and fund-raisers.
But ASUC officials countered with the Berkeley Campus Regulations, which allow ASUC-sponsored groups to table and reserve facilities even without Office of Student Life recognition.
The regulation states "recognized student government and its agencies," which ASUC executives interpret as including student groups, can "maintain a table" on locations such as Upper Sproul Plaza and use university facilities.
However, ASUC rules say a group must also be registered through the Office of Student Life to become an ASUC-sponsored student group.
Leybovich said if the office had not rescinded the fee, he would have considered issuing an executive order to override the ASUC rule requiring dual sponsorship.
"This was a really strong showing of student power," Leybovich said. "Even if you are told you have no choice-you have a choice."
Three other UC campuses currently charge registration fees for student groups, whose fees were averaged to come up with the proposed $40 for UC Berkeley groups.
UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara all charge between $35 and $50 annually to register student groups.
Riley said the Office of Student Life will begin refunding student groups who had already paid the fee on Wednesday.
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