Controversial student-led arts fee put to vote this spring

Elliott Llera, Staff Reporter

The implementation of a new $50 per quarter student fee is up for vote this spring.

The proposed arts fee has taken a unique and controversial path to getting on the ballot. Nick Shuey, ASCWU executive vice president, explained the process.

“There are two ways to go about getting something voted on,” Shuey said. “The first way to get something on the ballot is to bring it to student government. If they endorse it, it ends up on the ballot immediately.”

When students from the College of Arts and Humanities initially presented their proposal to the ASCWU, it was rejected.

Shuey explained that the ASCWU’s opposition was due to inadequate representation of the student body.

If the student arts fund is established, a committee composed of students and faculty members from the various departments within the College of Arts and Humanities will be formed.

All members of the committee would be appointed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

Shuey expressed concerns that, if the committee is structured this way, it will exclude non-arts students.

“If every student is paying the fee, shouldn’t every student be equally represented,” Shuey said.

After rejecting the proposal, the ASCWU explained what they thought should be modified.

Rather than re-drafting the proposal, the arts students turned to another available method used to get measures voted on: a petition signed by at least 10 percent of Central’s student body.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had to invoke that. I think that was the first time that students were able to get 10 percent and actually push something onto the ballot,” Shuey said. “It was actually very impressive.”

Rob Lane, vice president of student life and facilities, said while the petition route is allowed under student government, it isn’t exactly an ideal solution.

“A lot of the kids who were approving and signing off on this petition had no idea what they were signing,” Lane said.

Petitions also create an alternative avenue for other colleges to receive money, charging Central’s student body who is already funding them with their tuition

“Essentially, you could have every single college on campus starting to raise their own fees. Not only is that wrong because tuition already supports those programs, but we also already have some of the highest fees in the nation,” Lane said.

Central’s low student electoral voting pattern creates even more cause for concern.

“Typically, the number of students that come out to vote range between 600 and 800,” Shuey said. “[The College of Arts and Humanities] could have all the votes they need from within their own college.”

With a committee overseen by its own Dean at a school with  low turn out rates for elections, the College of Arts and Humanities has put itself in a powerful position.

“It could be entirely in their own hands,” Shuey said. “It’s very important for all students to get out and vote. This affects the whole university.”